Sunday, January 1, 2012

Van Gogh Up Close

Philadelphia Museum of Art (February 1 — May 6, 2012)
“I am always obliged to go and gaze at a blade of grass, a pine-tree branch, an ear of wheat, to calm myself,” Vincent van Gogh wrote in a letter to his sister, Wilhemina, in July of 1889. An artist of exceptional intensity, not only in his use of color and exuberant application of paint but also in his personal life, van Gogh was powerfully and passionately drawn to nature. From 1886 to 1890 when he ended his own life in Auvers, van Gogh’s feverish artistic experimentation and zeal for the natural world propelled him to radically refashion his still lifes and landscapes.
Sunflowers, 1887. Vincent Willem van Gogh, Dutch, 1853 ‑ 1890.
 Oil on canvas, 17 x 24 inches (43.2 x 61 cm), Framed:
 26 1/4 x 33 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches (66.7 x 85.1 x 6.4 cm).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund
Almond Blossom, 1890. Vincent Willem van Gogh, Dutch, 
1853 ‑ 1890. Oil on canvas, 28 15/16 x 36 1/4 inches (73.5 x 92 cm). 
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Van Gogh Up Close, a major exhibition organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Canada, presents a group of the artist’s most daring and innovative works that concentrate on a previously overlooked aspect of van Gogh’s work. Entitled  “close-ups,” the exhibition brings familiar subjects such as landscape elements, still lifes, and flowers into the extreme foreground of the composition or focuses on them in ways that are unexpected. These paintings have not previously been seen together or identified before as critical to understanding van Gogh’s artistic achievement.