The Holy Family: Tennessee Williams on Van Gogh

As mentioned in an earlier post, while at the University of Iowa's dramatic writing program, Tennessee Williams, then a complete unknown, set out to write a play about Vincent Van Gogh.

He didn't get past a few scenes, but the idea still fascinates. 

In a letter to a friend William Holland, dated 11/18/1937, he wrote:

The Van Gogh trouble is that there is too much dramatic material. it is hard to make a selection. Van Gogh was a great social thinker and artist — he had tremendous love for humanity and believed in the community of artists — he painted common people at work and tried to establish an art colony in southern France — but he was constantly misunderstood and persecuted — crowds gathered outside his window, shouting "Fou-roux" — "the red-headed madman" — that suggests a main theme — a man with a great love for humanity whom humanity rejected — he formed many disappointing relationships — his brother Theo was his only supporter — his story would be the story of an artist's relations to society — not one artist but all. 

From Selected Letters, pp116

Williams1937Pictures of Williams at this time in his life are rare: here's a yearbook picture from 1936.  




Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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