After closing seven months for renovations, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has reopened its doors with an exhibition titled Van Gogh at Work.
The Return of the Van Gogh Museum
By Grace Piney
The museum’s permanent collection contains works from all periods of the life of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). It includes 200 paintings, 400 drawings, documents and close to 700 letters .
In addition to works by van Gogh, the museum has a series of Japanese prints that belonged to the artist, and a selection of 19th century impressionist and post-impressionist works created by artists inspired by the oeuvre of Vincent van Gogh and vice versa. Other master painters complete the collection, among them: Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Rodin, Seurat, Signac and Toulouse-Lautrec.
The Van Gogh Museum opened in 1973 with pieces form the collection of Theo van Gogh, Vincent´s younger brother. It has been enriched through the years with new acquisitions (with the collaboration of sponsors and donors) and long-term loans from other institutions. Funding for its operation is provided by the Dutch State, and the works in this family collection have been placed “in trust” by the Vincent van Gogh Foundation.
VINCENT VAN GOGH. Self-portrait As an Artist, 1887-1888.
We owe the pleasure of knowing van Gogh’s art to his physician. The Dutch artist only sold two paintings during his lifetime, but his doctor, Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, recognizing his enormous talent and uniqueness, kept many of the unsold pieces. Gachet looked after van Gogh in the months leading to his suicide in 1890.
The exhibition covers the evolution of the artist’s work in a period of ten years. It is organized chronologically, beginning with his first experimental sketches through the latter paintings that subsequently have been more recognized. The intention is to “provide insight into van Gogh’s way of working, including paintings, works on paper, letters and personal effects of the painter, such as his original sketchbooks, paint tubes and only surviving palette, from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris”, said museum officials.
VINCENT VAN GOGH. The Potato Eaters, 1885.
Van Gogh at Work includes 145 paintings and sketches. Among the pieces exhibited are two versions of the Sunflowers series and the portrait La Berceuse (Woman in a Rocking Chair). Next to these three paintings there is a copy of a letter from van Gogh indicating how they should be displayed: the portrait in the center and the two sunflower paintings at each side. The three works belong to different museums, so this is an exceptional opportunity to view them as the artist wanted them to be displayed.
The exhibition will be open to the public until January 2014. ■