French Post-Impressionist Emile Bernard (1868-1941) was friends with Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. He closely corresponded with both artists for a number of years, influencing the development of Synthetism and Cloissonism. Later in his life he would switch to a classical style and develop a fierce rivalry with Gauguin, but for a time the eloquent writer voiced the ideas of the avant-garde. Here are excerpts from Van Gogh’s letters to Bernard:
“Thanks for your kind letter and the... decorations included with it, which I find really amusing. I sometimes regret that I can’t decide to work more at home and from the imagination... This, then, to criticize myself and to praise you.” (4.12.1888)
“There are so many people, especially among our pals, who imagine that words are nothing. On the contrary, don’t you think, it’s as interesting and as difficult to say a thing well as to paint a thing. There’s the art of lines and colors, but there’s the art of words that will last just the same.” (4.19.1888)
“Ah, you do darned well to think of Gauguin... everything his hand makes has a sweet, heart-rending, astonishing character. People don’t understand him yet, and he suffers greatly from not selling, like other true poets.” (5.22.1888)
“A technical question. Do give me your opinion in the next letter. I’m going to put the black and the white boldly on my palette just the way the colorman sends them to us, and use them as they are.” (6.7.1888)
“One reason for working is that canvases are worth money. You’ll tell me that first of all this reason is very prosaic, then that you doubt that it’s true. But it’s true. A reason for not working is that in the meantime canvases and paints only cost us money. Drawings, though, don’t cost us much.” (6.19.1888)
See watercolors by Bernard in our collection.