‘Vincent Van Gogh: His Life in Art’ leans heavily on loans from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum Otterlo, Netherlands, the number one and number two repositories for works by Van Gogh in the world. The MFA Houston serves as the only venue for the show featuring more than 50 works from early sketches to late oil paintings, forbes.com wrote.
“There has been no major Van Gogh exhibition in Texas for decades, and few of this scope and ambition anywhere in the country,” David Bomford, chair, Department of Conservation, and Audrey Jones Beck Curator of European Art at MFAH, said. “It covers the whole of Van Gogh’s all-too-brief ten-year career from its tentative beginnings in the Netherlands through his discovery of Impressionism and Pointillism in Paris, his radiant response to the brilliant light and landscapes of Provence, to his final year in Saint Remy and Auvers with its intimations of the tragedy to come.”
The works selected for display emphasize this evolution revealing his open-mindedness as a painter. They outline a career which began in a dark, realistic style befitting mid-19th century France and concluded in the wild, color-soaked, choppy-brushstoked, psychological masterpieces of his final years.
The rapidity with which Van Gogh burned through these phases of his tragically compressed career strikes home. He successfully experimented with a half century of artistic techniques from Barbizon school found Jean-François Millet, whose work he adored above all others, to Paul Cezanne, who he did not care for, before landing on his inimitable style which continues dazzling audiences more than 125 years after his death.
Van Gogh wasn’t a lone genius working exclusively in isolation. He was influenced. He was a great student of art and looked at as much as he possibly could. He was undoubtedly a genius, but his imagery didn’t spontaneously appear from the ether.
For all that was lost due to his suicide via gunshot at 37-years-old, what we are fortunate to know are his detailed, intimate thoughts about the work he did create due to the extraordinarily rich trove of letters which exist between him and his brother Theo. Copies of this correspondence augment the show.
“In some 820 letters, he described his daily life, his projects and his preoccupations – all interspersed with sketches of his paintings,” Bomford said. “We are uniquely admitted to the workings of his mind and his motivations and this has irresistible appeal to us today.”
On March 29 and March 30, MFAH screens ‘Loving Vincent’, the world’s first fully oil-painted feature film. More than six years in the making, this visually astonishing animated feature is composed of 65,000 painted frames completed by an international team of 125 contemporary artists. Both days also feature a one-hour documentary on the making of ‘Loving Vincent’.
On April 13, another biopic, this time 1990’s ‘Vincent & Theo’, will be shown.