Friday, November 16, 2012

Van Gogh? Go! GO!

Vincent van Gogh, 
Landscape under a stormy sky, 1889.
Oil on canvas. Fondation Socindec, 
Courtesy Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny (Suisse).

70 Van Gogh originals from 60 museums in 40 countries, plus another 20 pieces by contemporaries and influencers. Seven years in the making from curator Timothy Standring (taking almost as long as Van Gogh's entire career). This may be one of the most comprehensive showings of Van Gogh's work in our lifetime. It's a little early for Thanksgiving, but I'm extraordinarily thankful that I was able to see this non-traveling show. That's right, if you want to see this, you have to come to Denver within the next few months. 

Give yourself a couple of hours to go through. It was sold out this afternoon, and fairly crowded (although nowhere near as jam-packed as any major show at LACMA). The layout is nice, following his career from beginning to end, juxtaposing his paintings with those of painters who influenced him (Dutch masters early on, the French Impressionists later), as well as contemporaries, to show how far ahead of his time he was. 

A number of interesting things emerge. He was pretty much self taught as an artist. His style was all over the place, along with his media, depending on where he was, what his subject was, how much money he had, how comfortable he was, and his own mental health. I think if you scrambled his paintings and tried to guess what order they were painted in,  it would be impossible to get them correct. 

The final room's paintings from the last years of his life are stunning. Pace yourself with enough time to view these carefully. 

Only a couple of minor negatives; one is that the lighting is not always great. I prefer natural light and there is none in any room. Another was that there was one guard who was a little over-vigilant about enforcing the "you must stay 18" away from the paintings at all times" (even when they were protected by glass).

It's an amazing exhibit, and one worth seeing if you get the time. None of the photos do justice to the actual paintings. One of my favorites is below. In person, the colors are so bright I thought there was a backlight behind the painting illuminating it. 

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