Gazing Ball (van Gogh Wheatfield with Crows), is a 2015 artwork by Jeff Koons. It is an oil paint reproduction of a Vincent van Gogh painting as the parenthetical title displays. On a small shelf that is painted to blend in with the background sits a blue reflective ball. The gazing ball reflects a refracted view of the viewer and the gallery.
Messiaen’s commentary on IXX. Je dors, mais mon coeur veille (I sleep, but my heart lies awake)
“Poem of love, dialogue of mystical love. Here silences play a major role.
It is not an angel’s bow that smiles, – it is the sleeping Jesus who loves us on Sunday and who gives us oblivion …”
I can't stand much of Jeff Koons' work. It is often garish and kitschy. The first time I saw the Gazing Ball series I dismissed them as just more shiny bobs that Koons slapped onto old paintings in order to make boatloads of cash.
My friend Mike Rippy challenged me to take them more seriously and I began to realize Koons offers a challenge of his own; can you ignore your own reflection? We are such a self-obsessed culture that even when face to face with magnificent artworks of the past we can only look at ourselves. This is in part why we long for representation, why we take selfies and why both love and hate to look in mirrors.
Koons shows us the Wheatfield with Crows and challenges us to stop looking at ourselves. Christ's love, which this song humbly tries to express, is a love that challenges us to see more than ourselves. It challenges us to see our neighbors and ourselves as Christ sees us.
This pairing of artworks reminds me of the quiet moments I have experienced where I have been able to silence my self obsessed mind and I have seen the joy of Christ shine through His creation. Van Gogh was adept at seeing God in all things. Am I so narcissistic that I miss the still quiet voice that whispers in a wheat field flowing like water?
How much joy in creation do I miss as I gaze into my own reflection?