The world is immersed in mystery, and the most spiritual approach is to revel in it rather than analyze it. That certainly was the approach of Vincent van Gogh whose paintings honor the unknowable in human nature, in the natural world, and even in simple objects. In A Pair of Shoes, van Gogh conveys the sanctity of these dirty, worn-out tools of his working life. His respect for the mystery of the human personality comes through in portraits of a postman, Portrait of Joseph Roulin, and a physician, Portrait of Doctor Gachet. Two of his most powerful paintings pay tribute to the wild unsystematic energy of nature: Branches with Almond Blossom salutes new life, and The Starry Night vividly conveys the awesome quality of a turbulent sky.

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