Van Gogh Up Close in Philadelphia

Over forty Van Gogh paintings from all over the world will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibiting works from the last period of Van Gogh’s life, during his most tumultuous years.

February 1, 2012 – May 6, 2012
Philadelphia PA

Vincent van Gogh was an artist of exceptional intensity, not only in his use of color and exuberant application of paint, but also in his personal life. Drawn powerfully to nature, his works–particularly those created in the years just before he took his own life–engage the viewer with the strength of his emotions. This exhibition focuses on these tumultuous years, a period of feverish artistic experimentation that began when van Gogh left Antwerp for Paris in 1886 and continued until his death in Auvers in 1890.

Radically altering and often outright abandoning traditional painting techniques, van Gogh created still lifes and landscapes unlike anything that had ever been seen before.

He experimented with depth of field and focus. He used shifting perspectives and brought familiar objects “up close” into the foreground.

When he arrived in Paris, van Gogh initially worked in the Montmartre apartment he shared with his brother Theo. He created a series of still lifes and paintings of flowers and fruit, focusing especially on aspects of scale, angle, and color.

When van Gogh discovered the work of other artists in Paris, such as the Impressionist paintings of Monet, Pissarro, and Renoir, and the pointillist works of Seurat and others, he was inspired to use lighter colors and to play with different kinds of brushwork in his own work.

In his final works, van Gogh closed in on his subjects in even more dramatic ways, reducing the depth of field and maximizing the 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 an audacious series of still lifes which mark the culmination of the exhibition.

“Some great loans from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and a number of other museums. We’re very fortunate as well to get nine works on loan to us from private collections,” Curator Jenny Thompson says.

Co-curator Joseph Rishel says you’ll see works you may have never seen before and some that are more familiar.

“One of the most famous pictures he ever painted. A close-up, as it were, of a spare branch of almond blooms which bloomed very, very early in the winter, which he took to his new little nephew,” Rishel describes.

Van Gogh Up Close runs until May 6th. 2012.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor
26th St. and Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia PA 19130

RELATED TOPIC: Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Host Annual Winter Gala in Celebration of Van Gogh Up Close


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