Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters Painting on a Potato Farm in Manitoba, Canada(What Pegman Saw)

Happy Saturday Readers, 

Joining in with What Pegman Saw fiction challenge, which brings us to Manitoba, Canada

Here is the photo prompt for today’s 150-word fiction:

Manitoba, Canada – Credit google images – GC 2017

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Reminder – this is FICTION

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Potato Eaters Painting on a Potato Farm

(fiction word count: 150)

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Janet, I’m soon to depart this world. Need to confess. You know the Potato Eaters?

“The painting in the hall?”

It’s an original.

“What?”

Remember Peiter and Garrit – the Dutch farmhands? After the F5 tornado in 2005, they left – fearing tornadoes would wipe out our farm. In their bunk, I found a note – with that painting – thanking me for fair wages. Robert later told me those men were part of a Museum robbery.

“Van Gogh art –  in 1991? But that art was recovered.”

It was a lie. Expert replicas were swapped for originals – making it appear botched.

“Uncle, why didn’t you say anything?”

At first, I didn’t believe – sounded like farm tales. Then, during frigid Manitoba winters, the painting connected to my soul. I’d even think about it while cutting wood – the light, faces, lines —

Now what happens to it – is up to you.

“Well, it warms me too.

It –

stays in Manitoba!”

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Author Notes

This fiction was based on the fact that Manitoba, Canada is one of the leading potato providers for the world.

Portage la Prairie is a major potato processing center and they provide French fries for global food chains like Wendy’s and McDonald’s. (Who knew?) This led me to thinking globally – and then Vincent Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters painting came to mind. Next, I recalled the art heist back in April 1991. What if that art heist was NOT really botched? They said the art was recovered within less than an hour (35 minutes) but what if? — What if during that time the original art was swapped with expert replicas?  My muse led me to have some traveling art thieves hiding out in Canada. The thieves left Canada after Manitoba had that record-breaking F5 tornado hit in 2005. Maybe it was time to go back to Amsterdam. But they also left an original painting behind – to thank a kind boss. Had to include that part because “awesome bosses” are truly a gift to the world (just like awesome art can be) and the potato farmer was kind and left a good vibe with his  workers. 

Power of Art 

Wanted to briefly show another example of how art can speak to humans. Sometimes we glean different things from a painting at different times.  A painting can be out of sight – and can still speak to us as we chew on different aspects of the composition. 

I also wanted to touch upon ethical decisions that sometimes come our way. 

Does someone keep a gift that was given to them – even if it was stolen art? After bonding with the piece – and having it warm the soul during cold winters – well –  looks like this family is keeping the art. They justify possession.  tsk…. 

What would you do – keep the art of give it back? 

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 Care to join in with the What Pegman Saw ? go here.  

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Potato Eaters by Van Gogh

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31 thoughts on “Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters Painting on a Potato Farm in Manitoba, Canada(What Pegman Saw)

    1. How cool that you had a connection with the shed holding the firewood – i picker that photo because it reminded me of a potato 🥔 farm supply shed – and in a way the wood pieces look like they could be piled potatoes – or not – and side note – your recent comic – industrial one in he northwest – kind of tied into the vibe of today’s fiction / so I enjoyed it extra

      Like

  1. I like the idea that Janet makes her decision based on how the art makes her feel. The more I think about it, the more I wonder what kind of trouble they might be in if they tried to turn it in, especially if Uncle admitted he knew it was real & stolen. Hmm, better just keep it and let sleeping dogs lie!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Who would thank them if they turned in the painting? Not the experts who had connived at covering up the initial theft. Not the museum, who must have had more than a suspicion over the years that the painting on their wall wasn’t authentic, Much better to keep it! It’s a beautiful painting, too. I don’t think I could bear to let it go if it had been hanging on my wall for years.
    Story
    Lovely, fluent write, economical and very believable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was awesome to read – thanks Penny
      And such good points about “who would thank them” – and I appreciate the extra angles to consider – so good

      Like

    1. Oh that is a great question…. why “can” we look at them for hours – I have a few – ok many – that fit this category – and then have some that are neutral and some art that I simply don’t like! Ha – biased and judgmental about them

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Yvette,

    It would be a tough call. Perhaps if they went to the authorities with the original they could trade it back to the museum for the fake. Although, it might not be as easy as all that. Nicely done by putting it into a conversation.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not my favorite Van Gogh. He was prescient in showing humble people in humble circumstances and almost characaturizing them an inch from ugliness, and parsing the light and hue so as to vacuum out all that is traditionally considered beautiful from the painting. This anti-art kind of approach is very modern, I think.

    That opinion aside, it would be hard to take this painting on Antiques Roadshow or to an upstanding appraiser to ever realize the wealth they have been gifted.

    Reading the comment above about the tv picture based on this painting, I thought of another variation: the same grouping in modern day dress, with everyone eating french fries!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah – good modern day idea with fries – clever because of the potatoes and how we (well most) eat them today- however – I don’t think it fits my take on Van Gogh’s potato eaters – ((and whew – you called this “anti-art”??? Well those are some fighting words- just kidding – but I will get back to that in a minute))
      The reason I don’t think a bunch of people sitting around with fries would be a modern translation of the piece is because fries 🍟 can be expensive – well maybe not to everyone – but people who use the food bank are not paying $2.69 for large fries – they might get dollar menu crap – but the poor among us today have boxed items/canned goods (I think at least) and I am actually not sure what would be the equivalent to the family only having potato eaters
      Because these very poor people were scraping by on this meal –
      And I find so much beauty in it – of course it is dark and had that mood
      But an inch from ugliness – wow? That is rough
      I see the opposite
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      The girl second from left has round eyes and clear skin. She is together in her dress and soft lines – the person far left and person far right have the Dutch nose and face.
      There is maybe a slight dirty feel – and even a worm down vibe – which is close to reality for the poor in late 1800s ((and I sometimes see films that get this wrong – they dress people of the lower class in far too nice of attire when in reality – they had a ragged look ))
      There is also harmony here in potato eaters –
      Literal harmony with the sharing of food (lady second from right handing over a piece)
      The quiet calm in the pouring of coffee (or tea) and the kettle quietly right and out of the light
      And the calmness at the table shows quiet community and togetherness over the humblest of meals – potatoes
      But there is togetherness and a sense of unity
      The figurative harmony (my opinion which shows the pleasing combinations in the painting ) is felt with the light – it zigzags up and down added interest –
      Then the potatoes, cups, and chandelier form a tasty triangle – anchoring the piece so then we feel the verticals of the chairs – large foundational post right – and soft lit back of house with lines and picture etc
      The five people add to the vertical harmony and the soft roundness of the dress of the girl with her back to us (in center) – adds to the triangle in the middle and allows the eye to maybe move from that focal point.
      So inches away from ugliness? – hm – I can kinda see that with the shriveled hands that feel like bones – but a lot of fingers look like that-
      And then, the dimly lit room does make this feel a bit dirty – the man’s profile left is a bit protruded – but I wonder if these are more “true to life beautiful people” rather than some of the “creations” we see today all airbrushed – or fixed with plastic surgery – hmmm
      Thanks so much for your comment .

      and real quick – re: “anti-art” term

      I have never heard of the term anti-art
      Art is such a creative field and there are not rules – just guidelines – right?

      And art is a form of communication

      Art is visual communication

      Artists use the “content” of the work to say their message and the form they use is “how” they say it.
      Form is the way they use elements (and you might know all this) and they deliver their message –

      And so while not all art is about visual satisfaction – which is also so subjective and there was a school of thought that viewed the aim of a work art to be “purely aesthetic” where subject matter was missing and an artist only aimed to create “visual pleasure” ((decor and adornment have a strong place in the art world))
      However – the arts are referred to as a CREATIVE field for a reason – for the variety in the way artists visually communicate
      – and so by the very nature of this being a realistic painting classifies it as art –
      And I guess if (big if) = if I were to use the word anti-art it would refer to something other than a painting –

      And in the Potato Eaters – we have culture – humanity – texture – affect in the faces and quietude – we have durability and a tough, sense of gritty perseverance
      Perhaps down, but together
      Perhaps grateful to sit at the table together even with just potatoes and black coffee

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was a lovely analysis of the painting. I will bore you with one more comment, which I hope will clarify what I meant.

        When using the term “anti-art,” I did not mean to say this Van Gogh was not art.

        I was thinking more from a historical perspective. It’s been forever since college, when I took a class or two in Western Art History. I’m sure they teach it quite differently now. So forgive me if I get it wrong.

        But I seem to remember that, in general, European art moved, over the ages since the Renaissance, from depicting primarily religious/mythological subjects to depicting increasingly real, down-to-earth or everyday scenes. So subject matter changed over time.

        At the same time, I think, artists chose to portray, at first, primarily the upper classes, and gradually began focussing more on middle class or even more humble scenes, such as this one. So, the people considered “worthy” of representation in art changed.

        More recently, following the impressionists (a group in which Van Gogh is sometimes included), art became more about message than decorative beauty (not that there is any less beauty in more recent pieces. ) Gradually, abstraction, self-awareness and even self-ridicule in art became almost the norm, perhaps in reaction to the introduction of photography on a broad scale, which posed an existential threat to representational art.

        My point is, I think Van Gogh was ahead of his time, not only in social commentary, but in emphasizing message or story over traditional colorful prettiness.

        When I say inches from ugly, I am comparing this to a Rubens or a Renoir–art that seems to stumble over itself in order to please the eye. I do not mean that it does not possess its own, intrinsic beauty, as you have so beautifully outlined. It is more the beauty of reality, the Roman looking at everything visible on a person’s face, warts and all, and including that in a bust, as opposed to the Greek idealsm, striving for perfection at the price of authenticity.

        (The author of this comment is not an art historian but only plays one on the Interwebs. 😊)

        Liked by 2 people

  5. The family gathered around the table does not look too animated – perhaps it is because their food is boring, bland potatoes, not french fries, but at least they have dinner with one another and not on the run like so much of our society is apt to do these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that “at least they have each other” and I think that was part of what Van Gogh’s communicated message was here.
      Hard times for sure
      but togetherness
      and air in the lungs
      and a life to live
      and maybe… maybe not “all” bad

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mmmm…. not a pretty bunch, them potato eaters!
    Well, who would not mind owning a Van Gogh… or three? The morality of it all astounds!
    How about secretly reaching out to the gallery where the art was stolen and making a deal… letting them exhibit the now even more famous/ infamous painting part of the year… in exchange for other Van Gogh’s coming to visit the Manitoba farm?? Maybe a starry night to dispel the winter cold even better?
    Who knows… maybe the museum only owned one Van…
    Life with warts and all…

    Like

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