Monday, March 26, 2012

PONT VAN GOGH





The Langlois Bridge at Arles
From best-wallpaper.net


One of the interesting if also offputting aspects of traveling around Arles is the amount of Van Gogh related siteseeing. In the summer months especially, individuals, walking tours, and even tour buses hurry from place to place inside and outside the city, looking for the exact spot where Van Gogh painted this or that painting, catching amused sneers from the natives who--probably rightly--are sure there are lots better ways to spend a day in southern France.
The bridge is outside of the city, a ten minute drive at most. It's a curious combination of bustling tourist spot and hushed artistic retreat. It sits peacefully on a thin canal with little in the way of modernity nearby, except for the paved road that drops you off there. A modest stretch of roadside gravel exists for parking. It's a homely but enormously quiet, even reverent, spot, with this small and antiquated and inoperative bridge sitting in a permanently raised position, a dilapidated house beside it, and a nearby cover of trees that once passed through puts you out on a foot-worn path that runs alongside the canal. You can walk as far as you want northward or southward, with nary an interruption or distraction. string of fourteen or so identical small bridges once spanned the canal.
At some point in the 20th century they were removed for being useless vestiges of an outworn technology. And, sad but true, one of the bridges removed was the actual bridge Van Gogh painted. In the name of historical preservation, however, a single bridge was left standing. Since this bridge is identical to Van Gogh's bridge it is proudly (and self-servingly) proclaimed by the tourist industry as his bridge, which in some sense it is. For the working novelist trying to soak up atmosphere, it's certainly accurate enough. And a pleasant place to vist. It's true name in Van Gogh's time was not the "Langlois" bridge but the "L'Anglais," or the "English," bridge, because the man who tended the bridge was known to be an Englishman.
(creatingvangogh.blogspot.com)


Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing
From paintinghere.com


Vincent van Gogh approached his 1888 painting, Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing, with the Japanese aesthetic he so admired. Van Gogh thought of Arles as a French counterpart to the world he saw in the Japanese prints: clear air, blossoming trees, and the local people purposefully working in harmony with nature. He longed to see "nature under a brighter sky" to better understand what inspired the artists in Japan. He approached the subject of the Langlois Bridge mindful of the Japanese example, employing clear color and emphasizing the linear patterns of the bridge structure against the sky.
(entertainment.howstuffworks.com)
Van Gogh was 35 when he made the Langlois Bridge paintings and drawings. Living in Arles, in southern France, he was at the height of his career, producing some of his best work: sunflowers, fields, farmhouses and people of the Arles, Nîmes and Avignon areas. It was a prolific time for Van Gogh: in less than 15 months he made about 100 drawings, produced more than 200 paintings and wrote more than 200 letters. The canals, drawbridges, windmills, thatched cottages and expansive fields of the Arles countryside reminded Van Gogh of his life in the Netherlands. Arles brought him the solace and bright sun that he sought for himself and conditions to explore painting with more vivid colors, intense color contrasts and varied brushstrokes. He also returned to the roots of his artistic training from the Netherlands, most notably with the use of a reed pen for his drawings.
(WIKIPEDIA)


The Langlois Bridge at Arles
From wikipaintings.org


Sketch of The Langlois Bridge at Arles
From wikipaintings.org


Reconstructed bridge
The Langlois Bridge at Arles
From geolocation.ws


Photo of The Langlois Bridge at Arles
rebuilt for sightseeing
From cis.nctu.edu.tw


Finding Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting The Langlois Bridge at Arles is easy. You just go to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where one version of it is prominently displayed. (Van Gogh painted several views of it.) Finding the bridge, itself, is another matter, and crossing it is impossible because it is permanently open. The original bridge was removed in 1926; however, it was reconstructed some four kilometers south of Arles, slightly nearer to the city than the original. It’s a tiny drawbridge, and the two pieces comprising its center are frozen in the upward position. To the left of the bridge was a large poster showing the painting and giving a brief history.
(Fred Steinberg, Riverside, CA at intltravelnews.com)
The Langlois Bridge was one of the crossings over the Arles to Bouc canal. It was built in the first half of the 19th century to expand the network of canals to the Mediterranean Sea. Locks and bridges were built, too, to manage water and road traffic. Just outside of Arles, the first bridge was the officially titled "Pont de Réginel" but better known by the keeper's name as "Pont de Langlois". In 1930, the original drawbridge was replaced by a reinforced concrete structure which, in 1944, was blown up by the retreating Germans who destroyed all the other bridges along the canal except for the one at Fos-sur-Mer, a port on the Mediterranean Sea. The Fos Brige was dismantled in 1959 with a view to relocating it on the site of the Langlois Bridge but as a result of structural difficulties, it was finally reassembled at Montcalde Lock several kilometers away from the original site. According to letters to his brother Theo, Van Gogh began a study of women washing clothes near the Langlois Bridge about mid-March 1888 and was working on another painting of the bridge about April 2. This was the first of several versions he painted of the Langlois Bridge that crossed the Arles canal.
Reflecting on Van Gogh's works of the Langlois Bridge Debora Silverman, author of the book "Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Search for Sacred Art" comments, "Van Gogh's depictions of the bridge have been considered a quaint exercise in nostalgia mingled with Japonist allusions." Van Gogh approached the making of the paintings and drawings about the bridge in a "serious and sustained manner" with attention to "the structure, function, and component parts of this craft mechanism in the landscape."
(WIKIPEDIA)

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