Many have argued that Wheat Field with Crows (July of 1890) is Van Gogh’s last work. It is thought that Van Gogh is describing the work in a letter to his brother Theo dated July 10th, 1890: They are vast stretches of wheat under troubled skies, and I did not have to go out of my way very much in order to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness
There isn’t any real compelling argument to support the theory that Wheat Field with Crows is Van Gogh’s last painting, but let us consider if it were true. The painting depicts a dramatic cloudy sky filled with crows over a wheat field. A sense of conflict is suggested with a central path that leads nowhere. The double square format of the painting (twice as long as it is tall) draws out the vastness of the field, seeming to symbolize Van Gogh’s isolation and loneliness. Crows are often a symbol of death and rebirth. With Van Gogh’s suicide (it has also suggested that it was a murder) on July 29th, 1890, interpreting the work in this light would certainly be a romantic take on the Van Gogh mythology. If this is really Van Gogh’s last painting, then what a compelling look into the mind of the artist this work would be, full of sadness, doom, and thwarted desires.
In 1998 I made my own tribute to Van Gogh and Wheat Field with Crows, entitled Out to Pasture. At the time I was unaware of the state of the contemporary art world, which is through with heroic expression art and Van Gogh myths. Looking back now, I wonder if my tribute painting is not just homage to Van Gogh, but also a eulogy for all things Modernism, which Van Gogh no doubt helped create.
Below are some of my favorite works by Vincent Van Gogh. Click the image to enlarge.