Vincent van Gogh set an auction record in 1987 with the sale of his "Sunflowers" painting for $39.9 million at Christie's (read more here). In stark contrast, van Gogh supposedly only sold one painting during his lifetime.
I'm fascinated by the tremendous success some artists achieve posthumously, despite struggling financially during their lifetime. What did collectors not see during the artists' lives? Did the artists fail as marketers? Van Gogh made incredible paintings in his last two years of life, and I wonder if more financial success or popularity in those years would have saved him from his ultimate mental demise.
If I could write Vincent van Gogh a letter, I would tell him people care about his artwork--he is still relevant.
Relevance has to be one of my greatest motivators in art. Financial success aside, I want to know that my artwork feels relevant, that people care about what I create, that it has a place.
A wonderful man named Gregg purchased my painting of sunflowers this winter. Gregg shared the photo below with me, along with a thoughtful message about how much sunflowers mean to him, his wife, daughter and mother. The photo depicts his daughter in 1996 standing near his mother's sunflowers. Thank you, Gregg, for giving my painting a home.