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
Philadelphia’s Bike Share program, to begin in spring 2015, is just the latest news in the city’s eco-friendly efforts. Long a pioneer in the environmental movement, Philadelphia is attracting increasing global attention for efforts to become a leader in urban sustainability. Attractions, organizations and the city itself hold prestigious designations, including a major award from the Environmental Protection Agency. Not to be outdone, the region’s service amenities and modes of transportation are also advancing the green revolution.
Here’s a look at Philadelphia’s green cred:
- The Clean Air Council’s 5K Run for Clean Air is Philadelphia’s largest Earth Day
With 2015 comes plenty of reasons for visitors to plan a trip to Philadelphia. In fact, only-in-Philly projects, exhibitions, anniversaries and celebrations will give first-time visitors incentives to make that return trip and return visitors reasons to come back yet again.
So what’s on the calendar? The Tall Ships Challenge Philadelphia Camden 2015, showing off a dozen historic ships on the Delaware River Waterfront; Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, featuring more than 80 works by a who’s who of painters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and a special exhibition at The Rosenbach of the Free...
Literary roots run deep in Philadelphia, a city that has inspired countless authors and continues to nurture their legacies. Throughout the region, lovers of literature can connect with such classic authors as Poe, Whitman and Michener in the places where they lived, worked and created some of their most celebrated works. And with so many libraries, book collections and indie bookstores, literature lovers can delve deeper into the collected works of these and other favorite authors.
Of special note, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary since Alice first fell down the rabbit hole. To mark the sesquicentennial of Lewis Carroll’s...
In summer 2015, after stints at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris and the National Gallery in London, an even larger version of the Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting exhibition will make its way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for its only U.S. showing. On display from June through September 2015, this groundbreaking exhibit will showcase more than 80 impressionist works by some of the genre’s most significant artists: Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas and Alfred Sisley, all supported by the Parisian art dealer Durand-Ruel. While Discovering the Impressionists is...
It’s the most wonderful time of the year—especially in Philly, where iconic traditions and new festivities add sparkle to the season. Highlights: Last year’s blockbuster attraction, Waterfront Winterfest, returns to Penn’s Landing for an extended run, and the famous Mummers Parade tries out a new, spectator-friendly route. Of course, the calendar is packed with favorites such as Macy’s Christmas Light Show and New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront.
Find top holiday events, a holiday lights roundup, New Year’s Eve and Day guides and more at visitphilly.com/holidays.
Lovely Lights, Jaw-Dropping Displays & High-Tech Shows:
- Set amid the evergreens,
Festivals, athletic events, art shows, parades and cultural events keeps art lovers, garden enthusiasts, film connoisseurs, music aficionados and sports fans keep coming back to Philadelphia year after year. Here’s what’s going on in the region in 2015:
- Thousands of decorative strutters kick off the New Year by marching along Broad Street in the festive daylong Mummers Parade. One of the five Mummers divisions, the Fancy Brigades put on two elaborate Broadway-style performances for ticket holders at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. January 1. phillymummers.com
- The region gets revved for the Philadelphia Auto Show. The Pennsylvania Convention
While rumors persist year-round of real ghosts and goblins inhabiting some of Philadelphia’s most historic sites, it’s during Halloween season when other-worldly creatures emerge from all corners of the region to make it a happily haunted time of year. Families with wee ones get gentle thrills at the Philadelphia Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo and Morris Arboretum’s Scarecrow Walk. And for serious thrill-seekers, several of the area’s haunted houses (think Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary) have earned acclaim for their Hollywood-quality special effects, animatronics, pyrotechnics and teams of horrifically talented professional actors.
Here are some spots that...
Fun, food, arts and cultural activities highlight this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) festivities in Philadelphia. Chocolate lovers can barter cacao seeds in an Aztec Market at the Academy of Natural Sciences, while revelers can catch the celebratory spirit at Penn’s Landing’s Mexican Independence Day Festival and the Puerto Rican Day Parade on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For event updates, follow @PhillyTeAma on Twitter for all of Philly’s Hispanic Heritage Month happenings.
Festivals & Parades:
- It’s all Mexico—food, music, dancing and crafts—all day during the annual Mexican Independence Day Festival at Penn’s Landing. The family-friendly affair includes
While Philadelphia offers a variety of authentic and top-notch attractions, exploring this vibrant city takes some planning—especially for first-time visitors. With so much to see, do and taste, it’s challenging for a novice to know where to begin. From the historic Liberty Bell to the deliciously indulgent cheesesteak, here’s a look at Philly 101:
- Independence Hall – While historical attractions abound in Philly, Independence Hall has particular significance to the development of the nation. In this building in 1776, the Founding Fathers came together to sign the Declaration of Independence. Eleven years later, representatives from a dozen
Historical Sites & Attractions:
- Wannabe sailors can visit the nation’s most decorated battleship, the Battleship New Jersey, and take tours of the ship, ride the 4-D flight simulator, climb into the onboard helicopter and sleep in the sailors’ bunks as part of its award-winning Overnight Encampment program. 62 Battleship Place, Camden, (856) 966-1652, battleshipnewjersey.org
- America’s most famous flag maker greets guests in her interactive 18th-century upholstery shop at the Betsy Ross House. Visitors learn about Betsy’s life and legend from the lady herself. Summer brings a weeklong, annual Flag Fest celebration with free events every day. Also,