tom lywood poet

Tom Lywood
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22/02/2010
Sanity Sucks

Vincent van Gogh was not mad. As the most famous mad artist there is, I found this, by far the greatest surprise in the exhibition of his work on show at the Royal Academy in London. In fact, it seems, he spoke umpteen languages, and read widely, including Zola, Proust and Turgenev. The greatest testament to his sanity was his handwriting - as level and upstanding as a lawyer's or mathematician's.
Perhaps more fascinating than his non-madness, was that even in this magnificent and wide-ranging exhibition, the fact that van Gogh probably had syphilis was glossed over - in fact I could find no mention of it anywhere.
Syphilis, was the AIDS of the 19th century - Paul Gauguin had it, as did Maupassant - and van Gogh seemed perfectly normal before he got it, so why is it that he is always projected as the loony who chopped his ear off rather than a shagger with a dodgy taste in women?
One doubts it is because we are too prudish, and I can only assume it is because it suits society's image of an artist, and adds to the worth of his pictures that he be perceived as a mad, lonely genius.
There is no glamour in illness, in fact it makes people invisible. But madness? There is vigour in that, and romance.




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