Van Gogh Up Close
One of the world’s most well-known artists, Vincent van Gogh did not achieve recognition until after his death. He was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland and his short life ran from 1853-1890. He studied art in Belgium and Paris, France. In Paris, van Gogh studied with Cormon, Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin. His nervous temperament made him difficult to be around. An incident involving Gauguin ended up with van Gogh cutting off a portion of his own ear lobe. This mental state resulted in admission to an asylum in Saint-Remy for treatment. In May of 1890, Vincent seemed much better and went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise in southern France. Unfortunately, two months later, at the age of 37 he shot and killed himself in a wheat field “for the good of all.”
During his brief career he sold only one painting. Van Gogh’s finest works were produced in less than three years in a technique that grew more and more impassioned in brushstroke, symbolism, color, surface tension; and through movement and vibration of form and line. Van Gogh’s fusion of form and content is powerful, dramatic, rhythmic, imaginative, and emotional. He was completely absorbed in conveying his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature.
Curated by Joseph J. Rishel and Jennifer A. Thompson, “Van Gogh Up Close” is an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art of van Gogh’s lesser-known works. This exhibition examines van Gogh’s relationship to nature through 45 paintings. Most of these paintings are from the last four years (1886-1890) of his life, starting in Paris and continuing through the time he spent living with fellow artist Paul Gauguin in the village of Auvers and the memorable ear-cutting incident.
In his final works, van Gogh focused on objects in dramatic ways, reducing the depth of field and maximizing expressive impact of his brushwork and color. An intimately focused view of a clump of iris, a tangle of almond branches, and the vibrant patterning of an Emperor moth are just a few of the images in the series of paintings that culminate the exhibition.
“Van Gogh Up Close” runs through May 6, 2012
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, until 8:45 p.m. Fridays
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Phone: (215) 763-8100