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Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh

I consider myself to be a museum person, especially an art museum person.  I love spending hours in a fine collection, and my interests in Western Art range from early medieval to mid-20th century.  I have a soft spot for the Impressionists (yes, I know that’s so declasse), and for the post-Impressionists.  I’ve always loved Van Gogh (a love enhanced by his tragic personal story.)

So I was more than a bit astonished by the current show at the Phillips Collection in DC — Van Gogh Repetitions.  The relatively small, extremely well-curated show looks at the paintings that Van Gogh repeated multiple times in his career — The Postman, The Berceuse, L’Arlesienne, the Bedroom at Arles, and a few others.

I’ve studied Monet’s series.  I can prattle on about haystacks and Waterloo Bridge and Rheims Cathedral, etc.  But I’d *never* heard Van Gogh discussed in terms of series before.  And I’d never read about the debates of which painting came first in his series.

I’d also never thought of Van Gogh as an artist who used *tools*.  Sure, he used his paintbrushes and palette knives and that sort of thing.  But the show presents evidence that he used special frames, to transfer the design from one version of his painting to the next.  And that he set his work on a grid to facilitate other copies.  The tools made him seem more like Caravaggio than like a madman throwing paint on canvas, with crows of suicide flocking in the background.

All in all, an *amazing* show.  I love living in D.C.

Mirrored from Mindy Klasky, Author.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2014 07:26 pm (UTC)
That sounds really fascinating. I love when art is curated in a way that helps me perceive it from a whole new perspective. Some years ago I realized I had wandered through a museum and read everything written on the walls about the art, but not really engaged with the art itself. Where there are words, there is the default locus of my attention. So then for a couple of years I made a point of *not* reading, not listening to guides, but wandering around and waiting until something engaged my gut, and then just staying with that piece as long as I needed to. It was a really valuable approach, although it made it hard to go to museums with companions. More recently I've been appreciating good curation, so I try to go through twice. The first time is the visceral response walk through, but then I go back and pay attention to the notes. There are things to be gained both ways.
Jan. 13th, 2014 02:20 pm (UTC)
I love when I go to local exhibits and can take multiple passes. I, too, am very word-driven, and I find that I have to consciously remind myself to look at the art, instead of just reading the curatorial squibs!
Jan. 10th, 2014 09:42 pm (UTC)
I would love to see that. I've had a very long love of van Gogh's work. (Whenever I get to the National Gallery in Ottawa, I head straight for the area where they are hung. I love being able to get close enough to see the raised paint and just drink it in.)
Jan. 13th, 2014 02:20 pm (UTC)
Seeing the paint strokes was *vital* to this exhibit - there was a lot of discussion about which painting was done first in a series, and stroke analysis was part of how they decide...
Jan. 11th, 2014 12:29 am (UTC)
Very cool! I love where I live, but oh, museums...
Jan. 13th, 2014 02:21 pm (UTC)
Well, some people make up for that by working in an art gallery :-)
Jan. 13th, 2014 03:03 pm (UTC)
Er...you might have a point there.
Jan. 13th, 2014 12:20 am (UTC)
That sounds fascinating. I love art, but I haven't seen much Van Gogh (in person, obviously I've seen prints). I'd love to, but I just haven't gotten the chance yet.

That exhibit sounds quite fun though.

I love the impressionists and Monet in particular. I know, I know, but there was a lovely exhibit of Monet at the High a few years ago (it included the wall sized Waterlilies painting).
Jan. 13th, 2014 02:22 pm (UTC)
I'm always astonished by the variety of the waterlilies -- from wall-size to square format to everything in between! While I don't love the colors of his late paintings (the ones where he was nearly blind and used a lot of fluorescent paint), I love the idea of an artist adapting to his then-abilities!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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