Releases: Expanded View
Exhibition Explores Van Gogh's Deep Immersion Into Nature
Philadelphia Is The Only U.S. Venue For This Major Traveling Exhibition: Van Gogh Up Close, February 1-May 6, 2012
This is a Philadelphia Museum of Art press release.
"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, when van Gogh left Antwerp for Paris, 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. With an ardent desire to engage the viewer with the strength of the emotions he experienced before nature, van Gogh radically altered and at times even abandoned traditional pictorial strategies in order to create still lifes and landscapes the likes of which had never before been seen.
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 broke with the past and dramatically altered the course of modern painting. Made between 1886 and 1890 in Paris, Arles, Saint-Rémy, and Auvers, the works in the exhibition concentrate on an important and previously overlooked aspect of van Gogh’s work: “close-ups” that bring familiar subjects such as landscape elements, still lifes, and flowers into the extreme foreground of the composition or focus on them in ways that are entirely unexpected and without precedent. These landscapes and still lifes have not previously been seen together or identified before as critical to our understanding of van Gogh’s artistic achievement.
Van Gogh Up Close, includes major loans from museums and private collections in Europe, North America, and Japan, and will be seen in the United States only in Philadelphia (February 1-May 6, 2011) before traveling to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue and will offer a wide range of programs, including a lecture on the artist by exhibition co-curator Joseph J. Rishel; a conversation about the legacy of van Gogh with a panel of contemporary artists; a film series; and a lecture and book signing with Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, co-authors of the recent biography Van Gogh: The Life (February 12, 2 p.m.).
The exhibition will feature over 70 works, including 45 paintings by van Gogh and more than 30 comparative works such as Japanese woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige and Hayashi Roshü; European prints and drawings by Jean Corot, Camille Pissarro, and Jacob Ruisdael; and photographs by Frederick Evans, August Kotzsch, and others. Van Gogh was an avid collector of Japanese and European prints and drawings by artists whose aesthetic devices served as sources of inspiration for him. While van Gogh was loudly dismissive of photography, the medium offers intriguing parallels with his work and it is possible that van Gogh would have been fascinated by contemporary landscape photographs.
“Van Gogh Up Close explores an important facet of van Gogh’s work that underscores his importance as a path-finding modern artist,” comments Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “In seeking to share the intensity of his emotional response to the world around him as directly as possible, van Gogh took the traditional methods making pictures and changed the rules.”
After unsuccessfully pursuing careers as an art dealer, teacher, and pastor, Vincent van Gogh (1853 –1890), prompted by his brother Theo, began to study art in 1880. In the Netherlands in 1885, he completed his first major works using a palette of browns, greens, grays, and blacks. A year later, his work underwent a striking shift when, arriving in Paris, he was confronted for the first time by the Impressionist paintings of Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, and by the new pointillist works of Seurat and others. These progressive artists inspired him to lighten his palette and modernize his brushstroke. At roughly the same time, van Gogh began to collect Japanese woodblock prints, fascinated by their vibrant color, high horizon lines, tilting perspectives, and truncated or unusually cropped edges. These influences encouraged van Gogh to experiment with a radical treatment of field and space, flattening and compressing the picture plane in his paintings in order to create a sense of shifting perspective and tension.
Working initially in the apartment he shared with Theo in Montmartre, van Gogh painted a series of still lifes of flowers and fruit such as Still Life with Pears (1888, Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister, Dresden) and Sunflowers (1887, Metropolitan Museum of Art). In these works, objects are often seen from above yet are placed very close to the picture plane in a tightly cropped space which provides no clues to their context or setting. Pieces of fruit appear to tip forward and threaten to roll out of the picture. Van Gogh’s landscapes such as Undergrowth (1887, Centraal Museum, Utrecht) stress the abundance of grasses and flowers by cropping out the horizon.
By the spring of 1888, troubled by intense personal anxieties, van Gogh sought refuge from city life and moved to Arles in the south of France. There he hoped to emulate Japanese artists, working in close communion with nature and studying “a single blade of grass” in order to better comprehend nature as a whole. Landscapes such as Field with Flowers Near Arles (1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) reflect a Japanese influence in their high horizon lines and bold colors. Here van Gogh began to adopt a more structured, deliberate treatment of his subjects.
The open compositions that van Gogh created in Arles gave way to a series of landscapes painted in Saint-Rémy, where van Gogh had committed himself to an asylum late in 1888 after his break with Gauguin, and continued in Auvers outside Paris, where van Gogh ultimately took his life in 1890. In these densely packed compositions, the artist evoked the immediacy and closeness of his surroundings as he continued to develop an intimate, close up focus. The exhibition culminates in an audacious series of still lifes which were painted outdoors and take as their subject an extremely close view of a clump of iris, an upward gaze through a tangle of almond branches, or the vibrant patterning of a Death’s-head moth. In these works van Gogh closes in on his subject, dramatically reducing the depth of field and maximizing the expressive impact of his brushwork and color.
“Studying Van Gogh’s close-ups is essential to understanding the artist’s development, as they demonstrate a visual strategy that has been touched upon in scholarship but has not been systematically separated and addressed,” notes Jennifer Thompson, the Philadelphia Museum’s Gloria and Jack Drosdick Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture before 1900 and the Rodin Museum. “By exploring this astonishing dimension of the artist’s achievements, we will establish a greater understanding of the scope of his work.”
Van Gogh Up Close is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, where it will travel following the Philadelphia venue. In Philadelphia the exhibition is curated by Joseph J. Rishel, The Gisela and Dennis Alter Senior Curator of European Painting before 1900, and Jennifer A. Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Associate Curator of European Painting before 1900. They have developed the exhibition in close association with Cornelia Homburg, Independent Scholar and Guest Curator, and Anabelle Kienle, Assistant Curator of European and American Art, at the National Gallery of Canada.
This exhibition is made possible by GlaxoSmithKline and Sun Life Financial. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Additional support is provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, The Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, David and Margaret Langfitt, Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Linck, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Thalheimer, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Abramson, The Arcadia Foundation, Mrs. Eugene W. Jackson, and other generous individuals. Promotional support is provided by NBC 10 WCAU and Amtrak. The catalogue was funded, in part, by the Netherland-America Foundation.
Van Gogh Up Close will be accompanied by a catalogue available in English and French editions, published by the National Gallery of Canada. Featuring approximately 200 full color illustrations, the catalogue will include six essay contributions. The introductory discussion by van Gogh expert Cornelia Homburg defines what is meant by “close-up” and explores the definition in relation to van Gogh’s admiration for Japanese art. Joseph J. Rishel, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Gisela and Dennis Alter Curator of European Painting before 1900 and Senior Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection and the Rodin Museum examines Van Gogh’s interest in early Dutch and German art and the ways in which it influenced his later work with regard to subject matter, composition, and perspective. Jennifer Thompson looks at the Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painting being done in Paris in the 1880s and how experiments with optical space and surface patterning provide a context for van Gogh’s close-ups. Other essays address van Gogh’s correspondence, the influence of 19th century photography, and van Gogh’s approach to mark-making. The catalogue will include an exhibition checklist, and an illustrated chronology. Color reproductions of all the close-ups made by van Gogh will be an integral part of the catalogue, enabling works not included in the exhibition to be a full part of the exploration of this phenomenal aspect of van Gogh’s career. (320 pages, 220 illus., ISBN: 978 0 300 18129 6, Price: $60.00, Publication Date: January 2012)
Students and Youth (ages 13-18) $20.00
Children (ages 5-12) $12.00
Children 4 and under Free
Museum Members Free
*Ticket service charges ($2.50, Member ticket) and ($3.50, Non-member) apply to each ticket.
Gift tickets will also be available in a package decorated in the imagery of van Gogh’s 1890 masterpiece, Almond Blossom. Gift tickets are redeemable for any date and time throughout the run of the exhibition, based on availability. Gift tickets are $28.50 per ticket and can be purchased by calling 215-235-SHOW (7469).
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States, showcasing more than 2,000 years of exceptional human creativity in masterpieces of painting, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. An exciting addition is the recently renovated and expanded Perelman Building, with five exhibition spaces, a soaring sky-lit galleria, and a café overlooking a landscaped terrace. The Museum also opened a new sculpture garden on the West side of its main building in 2009, offering new exhibition space for outdoor sculpture. The Museum offers a wide variety of enriching activities, including programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.
For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at (215) 684-7860. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100, or visit the Museum's website at www.philamuseum.org (12/22/2011).
- Gigi Lamm, (215) 684-7860
11 Things To Know: Latino Philadephia
Strength In Numbers:
- The 2010 U.S. Census reported 187,611—that’s 12.3%—of Philadelphians are Latino.
- 121,643 are Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent.
- 15,531 are Mexican or of Mexican descent.
- 3,930 are Cuban or of Cuban descent.
- 46,507 are of other Hispanic descent.
- The hub of Latino culture and life in Philadelphia, El Centro de Oro, centered at 5th Street and Lehigh Avenues in the city’s Fairhill section of North Philadelphia, is home to residents descending from almost every Latin American country, a strong concentration of Puerto Rican families, along with non-profit organizations and many Latino-owned businesses.
- Each year,
16 Things To Know: African-American Philadelphia
Strength In Numbers:
- The 2010 U.S. Census reported 661,839—that’s 43.37%—of Philadelphians are African-American, the city’s second largest ethnic demographic. More recent estimates show this population has increased by approximately 1% in the past six years.
- The largest concentration—82%—of African-American Philadelphians live in North Philadelphia west of Germantown Avenue, Point Breeze in South Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and in parts of Southwest Philadelphia.
- Important African-American business corridors include 52nd Street between Walnut and
Arch Streets and Baltimore Avenue between 40th and 52nd Streets, both in West Philadelphia; and Stenton Avenue between Broad Street and Walnut Lane and Ogontz
15 Things To Know: LGBT Philadelphia
Marks Of Pride:
- On July 4, 1965, Independence Hall was the site of the United States’ first major LGBT rights demonstration. A state historical marker at 6th and Chestnut Streets commemorates this peaceful protest and the four that followed each July 4 through 1969, known collectively as the Annual Reminders. nps.gov/inde, phmc.state.pa.us
- Nearly 70 rainbow street signs proudly adorn the Gayborhood, a Center City neighborhood of LGBT restaurants, bars, businesses and homes spanning 11th to Broad Streets and Pine to Chestnut Streets. Another neighborhood notable: rainbow crosswalks, at 13th and Locust Streets.
- Giovanni’s Room is
New LGBT Historic Markers, Equality Forum & The Democratic National Convention Make For A Historic July In Philadelphia
July 2016 is shaping up to be a monumental month for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents and visitors in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Philly kicks off the month by loving freedom during the weeklong Independence Day celebration Wawa Welcome America. Next comes qFLIX, a festival of groundbreaking homegrown and international films. And later in the month, the Democratic National Convention (DNC), welcomes the largest-ever group of LGBT convention delegates to Philadelphia, which coincides with dedication ceremonies for two historical markers honoring LGBT pioneers and Equality Forum, the nation’s oldest LGBT rights summit.
Beer Gardens & Outdoor Drinking Spaces Bloom In Philly
There’s only one place for beer lovers to be this summer, and that’s Philadelphia, where beer gardens abound and where craft beer is king. In past years, the city earned countless awards and glowing reviews for its outdoor drinking spaces. This year, these warm-weather venues are back—better, bigger and more numerous than ever. Among the most attention-grabbing: Spruce Street Harbor Park, a bustling oasis celebrating its third year on the Delaware River, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Pop Up Gardens, located in two different spots this year, and the highly anticipated SkyGarten, an alfresco German beer hall 51 stories up.
New Reasons To Visit Historic Philadelphia This Summer
Philadelphia’s historic district—now called Historic Philadelphia—simmers with summer excitement as the city’s oldest neighborhood debuts new activities and exhibitions. Visitors launch their very own presidential campaigns in Headed to the White House at the National Constitution Center, and the Independence Seaport Museum mischievously observes sailors’ lives from the 20th century through today. Along popular Penn’s Landing, outdoor hangouts Summerfest and Spruce Street Harbor Park promise more fun than ever, and Fourth of July bash Wawa Welcome America injects fresh components to a good old-fashioned block party.
A two-day Historic Philadelphia Pass makes the must-dos even easier—and more affordable. The pass,...
Celebrate A Red, White And Blue July 4th In Philadelphia
Birthdays deserve big celebrations—and nobody will celebrate America’s 240th better than Philadelphia, the city where it all began. June 27 through July 4, 2016, Wawa Welcome America! will rock the town with red, white and blue festivities that culminate in a four-day weekend of free concerts featuring Tony-nominated Leslie Odom, Jr. of Broadway’s monster hit Hamilton, Bryshere Gray, also known as Yazz, of TV’s blockbuster Empire and myriad more stars of all stripes. The eight-day celebration also includes three dazzling fireworks shows, the Historic Philadelphia Block Party, parades, patriotic ceremonies, not to mention chance encounters with our Founding Fathers...
A Tale Of Two Host Cities: Philadelphia And Cleveland Put On 2016 Political Conventions
While presidential candidates are going head-to-head in heated discourse, the great American cities of Philadelphia and Cleveland are pushing political banter aside to ready themselves for the national spotlight as they host the Democratic National Convention (July 25-28) and Republican National Convention (July 18-21), respectively. Cleveland’s last political convention was the 1936 RNC; that same year, Philadelphia welcomed the DNC. The cities will be part of history again in 2016.
Both destinations have a loyal fan base; residents love their respective city’s arts and culture, history, music and food, and visitors clamor over much of the same. Here’s a look...
Philadelphia's Vast Collection Of Historical Artifacts Wins Over Political Junkies
Before and during the festive nominating sessions, motivating speeches and nighttime celebrations, delegates, party operatives, campaign staffers and volunteers for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, July 25-28, can discover items that document the history of politics and government in this country. As the birthplace of the nation and the country’s first and only World Heritage City, Philadelphia is home to institutions that work political artifacts into their missions and others that are planning special exhibitions especially for this occasion.
- Inspired by FanFest, PoliticalFest brings political entertainment to the people—right in the birthplace of American democracy.
Only in Philly, Only During the DNC
Philadelphia, the country’s first World Heritage City, is all in for the Democratic National Convention. Museums and attractions around the city are getting in the red, white and blue spirit with political-themed events, exhibitions and specials. As convention delegates head to the Wells Fargo Center to cast their votes for a nominee, here are 19 ways locals and visitors can cast their votes for fun:
1. The National Constitution Center’s timely Headed to the White House gives people the scoop on the electoral process, from the moment a candidate announces his/her campaign to the presidential swearing-in ceremony.