Tree roots, 1890
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
At first sight, this painting appears as a jumble of bright colors and wild abstract shapes. Powerful strokes and thickly applied paint mark the canvas. The subject only becomes apparent when you look more closely: tree roots, plants, leaves, with the brown and yellow of a sandy woodland floor under them. Van Gogh painted other scenes of trees and woods. He often cut off his compositions in an unusual fashion, often painting trees without their tops, or a piece of woodland showing only undergrowth and flowers – or, as here, only the roots of the trees.