Monday, October 23, 2017

LOVING VINCENT, A Masterpiece: Review By Polly Guerin

No other artist has attracted more legends and controversy over his death than Vincent van Gogh. Variously labelled a madman, a genius, even a layabout, the real Vincent is at once revealed in his letters, and obscured by myth and time. Vincent himself said in his last letter, 'We cannot speak other than by our paintings'. The film LOVING VINCENT takes Vincent at his word and lets the paintings tell the real story of Vincent van Gogh's life. 
      The film is an art lover's dream with storytelling charm that sheds new light on the great artist, so misunderstood, bullied and so under appreciated in his time. His genius was great but sadly he sold but one painting during his entire life. LOVING VINCENT can be enjoyed as a gigantic painting, bursting with colors, mesmerizing with its reproductions of familiar faces and places, but as remarkable as Vincent's brilliant paintings, is the portrayal of his passionate and ill-fated life, and mysterious death. 
      It was first shot as a live action film with actors, and then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils.  The final effect is an interaction of the performance of the actors playing Vincent's famous portraits and the performance of the painting animators, bringing those characters into the medium of paint.
     This is a first time in cinematic history that a movie has been created exclusively using handmade paintings in an animated feature film.   Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film is an oil-painting hand-painted by 125 professional oil painters who painted directly onto the rushes while trying to remain as faithful as possible to Van Gogh's technique and style.  The start and end of each shot is the exact copy of one of Van Gogh's works. A total of 94 paintings were fully reproduced, and 31 ere partially recreated.    
       The result is an example pure visual enchantment in which some of the world's most renowned paintings are animated, such as The Starry Night, Portrait of Dr. Cachet, Wheatfield with Crows, and The Night Cafe, pictured right. And we also meet again Doctor Gachet, and his daughter Marguerite Gachet. Then too, he painted many other famous faces that match the famous paintings they portray.  
Jospeh Roulin, Postman
The film begins in the summer of 1891, one year after Van Gogh's suicide. Armand Roulin, is asked by his father, the postman, Joseph Roulin, one of Van Gogh's favorite models,  to deliver a posthumous letter to Van Gogh's brother Theo. Armand, who becomes a central character in the film, is not pleased with the task as he never approved of his father's friendship with the artist. Yet he dutifully goes to Paris only to learn that Theo, devastated by the death of his brother, had only lived a few months after Vincent's suicide. He then travels to Auvers-sur-Oise to shed light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding Vincent's death.   Armand becomes central to the investigation, 'Was Vincent murdered,' and in so doing encounters Dr. Gachet and questions him about the real circumstances behind Vincent's death. Alas you will have to see the movie to find out.     
The Cafe Terrace Place de Forum, Arles
Breathing life into Van Gogh's painting was written and directed by young Polish director Dorota Kobiela and the British producer Hugh Welchman. produced by Poland's BreakThru Films & UK's Trademark films.  The duo animated a selection of oil paintings created in the style of the Dutch master to portray the final weeks of the painter's life in Auvers-sur-Oise in the Paris region, where he was staying at the time of his death in the south of France. The collaborators drew inspiration for the film from the wealth of letters Van Gogh exchanged with his family.  

      Find LOVING VINCENT at local movie theaters. The film introduces theater actor Robert Gulaczyk in his first film role as Vincent van Gogh, and Armand Roulin, central to the story, is played by Douglas Booth.  Sharing the spotlight Chris O'Dowd is the Postman, Joseph Roulin.
      Doctor Gachet is portrayed by Jerome Flynn and his daughter Marguerite Gachet is played by Saoirse Ronan; Helen McCrory plays Louise Chevelier, house-keeper to Doctor Gachet. Notable, too, is Aidan Turner is the Boatman from Vincent's Bank of the Oise-sur-Oise painting. Thanks to the magazine FRANCE-AMERIQUE for story details.
      Ta Ta Darlings! I loved this film, but I had a feeling of great sadness after viewing how Van Gogh was tormented by local bullies in Auvers-sur-Oise, and disrespected by local individuals, and then, too, did he really commit suicide or was he murdered?
     Fan mail always welcome please send your comments to Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left hand column to the blog that resonates with your interest on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry.

Monday, October 16, 2017


King Sejong the Great
Korea is a land of beauty and fascination. Its language of antiquity came from King Sejong the Great, but its standard today reflects a modern country that holds an important role among the nations of the world. Early on Korea entered the digital age and prominent firms also emerged, such as Samsung, Then, too, significant scientific and medical advances including robotic surgeries were "firsts" here. 
         However, there is ever so much more to tell you about Korea, therefore, if you are student of the cultures that bind us all to history then plan a visit to the KOREAN SPIRIT & CULTURE PROMOTION PROJECT, KSCPP , which is located 261West 35th Street between 7th and 8th avenue. This group welcomes you to the Hidden Wonders of Korea with documentary film screenings that introduce Korea's cultural and Industrial achievements followed by a traditional homemade Korean meal. This ongoing introductory event, scheduled at 6:30 pm,  is complimentary, but you must RSVP to to attend.
      The historical film "The Grace of Korean Art & King Sejong the Great,"  was my favorite where I learned about King Sejong who founded, Hangul, the Korean language of compassion in the mid-15th century. A great ruler he believed and advocated, "If the people prosper, how can the King not prosper with them." A tenet that is the very core of Korea's progress and prosperity.  Other documentary films shown include. "Bridging Korea's Past and Present, The Legacy of Devotion and Serving the People Through Science & Technology.
       BOOKS OF KNOWLEDGE: A comprehensive selection of complimentary books on Korean history and culture are also available free of charge. My favorite was the book by the author, Chung Hyo Ye,"Tales of filial devotion, loyalty, respect and benevolence from the history and folklore of Korea."  Some of these stories of love, family, strangers and betrayal are so true to any one's life and all the handsomely-bound books can be had in English as well as Korean.  

TRADITIONAL HANBOK Gracious Korean women, wearing the traditional gown called Hanbok, greet guests at the KSCPP . Each garment is a work of art in itself, either embroidered or hand-painted on beautiful silk fabrics in colors that represent the five elements (earth tree, meal, water, fire). The Korean ladies dressed wo exquisitely adds such a traditional feel to a KSCPP program. Upcoming programs include:
       TASTE of  KOREA, a Korean Cooking Demonstration and home-cooked dinner, this Sunday, October 22 from 4-6 pm at a different location at 23rd Street.  Participants will receive recipes to take home and free books on Korean history and culture. Cost: $25.00. This is a popular event and seating is limited and an RSVP is required, email  At this event you will find out about the health benefits of Korean food and learn about the vegetarian tradition in Korea. Check their website at for other scheduled cooking classes.
       LOTUS FLOWER LANTERN CRAFT There are other wonderful programs here to enhance your Korean experience including the Lotus Flower Lantern Craft workshop starting with a short documentary film on the Korean artistic tradition and the meaning of the Lotus Flower. The ladies will be on hand to help you make a lovely lotus flower lantern using colorful paper and wire frames. Just so you know, participants can choose the color of the lotus flower for the lanterns. Class usually begins at 3pm and again seating is limited so you know an RSVP is required. The cost is minimal and you can even pay with the
the Paypal link.
      11th NATIONAL ESSAY CONTEST: To foster the understanding and appreciation of Korean history and culture, the KSCPP hosts its 11th national essay contest. which is open to Middle and High School Students.  The entrants are required to read Chung Hyo Ye, which I mentioned earlier was incidentally my favorite book. One of the questions posed to the entrants, which I thought was particularly apropos is "How could the values of Chung, Hyo and Ye be applied to the world today? Entries should be submitted electronically to with the subject heading "2017 11th Essay Contest." Or mail to KSCPP, 158-16 46th Ave., Flushing, NY 11338.  Deadline for both the online submissions are due by January 15, 2018. The winners will be announced no later than April 1, 2018.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! The Korean experience imbued with cultural and industrial significance is unfolding right here in New York City. Be there, it's so enchanting. Fan mail to Polly is always welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at, just click on the link that resonates with your interest on fashion, visionary men, women determined to succeed, and poetry from the heart.


Monday, October 2, 2017

DRAWN TO GREATNESS: The Thaw Collection: Review by Polly Guerin

The Bathers ca 1900 Paul Cezanne 
If you have the collector's gene and wealth to acquire a vast collection, a specific genre of art, as time goes by and the final curtain closes in, you may have the urge to open a museum of your own, but donating to a museum may be the most realistic choice.
      Such is the case with the Thaw Collection in DRAWN TO GREATNESS, Master Drawings, which recently opened at The Morgan Museum and Library. The exhibition, on view through January 7, 2018,  focuses on works acquired by Eugene V and Clare E.
La Rond des petities Betonnes, Paul Gauguin 1888 
Thaw since 1994. In the decades since the 1950s, they have assembled one of the finest collections of drawings and watercolors in private hands. 
Image Left: The Bathers 1900 watercolor over graphite, Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)
       This is not the first time that the Shaw holdings have been shown at the Morgan. This is the fifth since 1975, which is a promised gift to the museum.  The collection was first promised to the Morgan in the same year by Life Trustee Eugene V. Thaw and the final gift of drawings came to the Morgan in January. As a body of work, representing so diverse a mix of artists, The Thaw collection of drawings is considered among the foremost assembled by an individual over the last fifty years.  
      DRAWN TO GREATNESS features over 150 masterworks highlighting pivotal artists and key moments in the history of draftsmanship.  In addition to the remarkable selection of modern works, exceptional sheets dating from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century are on view and most of the works have not been previously exhibited. A partial listing of of artists represented includes Rubens, Rembrandt, Piranesi, Watteau, Fragonard, Goya, Ingres, Turner, Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin, van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, and Pollock. Image: Breton Girls Dancing, Pont-Aven, 1888, Paul Gauguin (1845-1903). 

This energetically worked pastel is preparatory for the painting by Paul Gauguin executed the summer of 1888, and first shown in Paris that fall; now it resides in the National Museum of Art in Washington D.C. 
      For the schedule of programs and lectures contact or 212.685.0008 ext 560.  Of particular note is DRAWN TO SONG, on Wednesday, October 11, 7:00 pm. To parallel the history of draftsmanship in Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection artists from The Glimmerglass Festival will perform a program reflecting the history of the art song. Selections will include songs and poetry contemporary to the artists featured in the Thaw collection. 
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! I still haven't decided where to donate my petite collection of art and artifacts. T'is a delimma, but I do so much enjoy my works of art, that I clearly cannot depart with then, Yet! Fan mail welcome: Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left-hand column on the subject that resonates with your interest fron fashion to visionary men, women determined to succeed, and even poetry.