Van Gogh Moves Once Again

The mention of Vincent van Gogh brings a flurry of things to mind: a coffee cup, a mouse pad, an umbrella, memories of Starry Night at the MOMA, the days […]

October 21, 2012 // Tracy Shaffer // No Comments //

Vincent van Gogh Basket with six oranges, 1888. Oil on canvas, private collection, courtesy of Heather James Fine Art.

The mention of Vincent van Gogh brings a flurry of things to mind: a coffee cup, a mouse pad, an umbrella, memories of Starry Night at the MOMA, the days of my youth spent in Amsterdam and the alley in Paris that looks like The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum (which was actually in Arles). Whatever your mind conjures up it won’t hold a (chair and) candle to what you’ll see at the Denver Art Museum’s new exhibition,
Becoming Van Gogh. As the Art Museum says it–

Organized by the DAM and curated by Timothy J. Standring, Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the DAM and Louis van Tilborgh, Senior Researcher of Paintings at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, Becoming Van Gogh brings together loans from more than 60 public and private collections from across Europe and North America to tell the story of a number of key formative
periods throughout the artist’s career.

As I would phrase the experience–

Vincent van Gogh, Vase with Gladioli, 1886. Oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum.

A wondrous journey through a genius mind.
As the viewer follows the development of an artist, she also shares the journey of a passionate craftsman. There are the familiar paintings, landing in the collective haystack of what we understand to be “Van Gogh”, and then there are those which transport us to the moment of their creation; some studious, some spontaneous, others give us Van Gogh’s point of view as he shifts his sense of place. Sketches of female nudes, and humble oils of vases full of flowers bring the cloudy Dutchman into the mastery of living color. Parisian open space from the hill of Montmartre and Le Moulin de la Galette, Potato Eaters and wheat fields, still lifes and self portraits fill frame after frame as we progress toward the Van Gogh of legend. It is midway and the Basket with Six Oranges that stopped me still as it radiates from the canvas and bounces off the wall. Might be the most amazing thing I’ve seen since… well, just since.
Van Gogh is a harsh beauty, rough and delicate at the same time, like life. The complexity of his evolution is captivating, there are multiple moments in this show that will bring you to tears if you let it, for it’s not a story of being, it is the story of becoming.

Vincent van Gogh, The Blute-fin Mill, 1886. Oil on canvas, Museum de Fundatie, The Nederlands.


I don’t know how they keep doing it, but this is another DAM exclusive and your only chance to see this show. Timed tickets are essential, advance purchase is a must. I’ll revisit, even with the throngs it will be worth it. My fantasy version is a Night-at-the-Museum sleepover where I could wander through the wonder in my PJs, or lay in front of a painting and ponder. Something tells me that’s not gonna happen.
Becoming Van Gogh runs now through January 20, 2013 at the Denver Art Museum


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