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You Should Gogh To The Van Gogh Museum

(Image courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum)

What makes a work of art a masterpiece? Is it the mastery of technique or the artist? As much as I love art, I can not answer this question for every artwork. Yet, I think Vincent Van Gogh is the defining factor of why his art is revered and celebrated today. In his short life marred by mental illness, Van Gogh tried and failed at many careers before he decided to be an artist. With only his brother Theodore as his support system, Van Gogh would change how the world sees a sunflower to a starry night. When he died, the world had not appreciated the artistic merit of his pieces. While most artists, writers, and musicians are lost over time, Van Gogh's legacy has blossomed into a world-renowned artist. I had the chance to speak with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to learn more about why you should visit the Van Gogh Museum.

(Image courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum. Image is of Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh. The museum describes the significance of this work when it says the following, " Van Gogh’s paintings of Sunflowers are among his most famous. He did them in Arles, in the south of France, in 1888 and 1889. Vincent painted a total of five large canvases with sunflowers in a vase, with three shades of yellow ‘and nothing else’. In this way, he demonstrated that it was possible to create an image with numerous variations of a single colour, without any loss of eloquence.The sunflower paintings had a special significance for Van Gogh: they communicated ‘gratitude’, he wrote. He hung the first two in the room of his friend, the painter Paul Gauguin, who came to live with him for a while in the Yellow House. Gauguin was impressed by the sunflowers, which he thought were ‘completely Vincent’. Van Gogh had already painted a new version during his friend’s stay and Gauguin later asked for one as a gift, which Vincent was reluctant to give him. He later produced two loose copies, however, one of which is now in the Van Gogh Museum.")

1. Why should someone visit the Van Gogh Museum?

The Van Gogh Museum hosts world's biggest collection of paintings, drawings and letters by Vincent van Gogh. We are also the museum of the 19th century, and present many exhibitions (please see our website). We are located at the Museumplein in Amsterdam, where other world famous museums, such as Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum are located.

(Image courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum. Image is of Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat by Vincent Van Gogh. This painting importance is emphasized by the following Van Gogh Museum explantation, " Van Gogh painted this self-portrait in the winter of 1887–88, when he had been in Paris for almost two years. It is clear from the work that he had studied the technique of the Pointillists and applied it in his own, original way. He placed the short stripes of paint in different directions. Where they follow the outline of his head, they form a kind of halo.The painting is also one of Van Gogh’s boldest colour experiments in Paris. He placed complementary colours alongside one another using long brushstrokes: blue and orange in the background, and red and green in the beard and eyes. The colours intensify one another. The red pigment has faded, so the purple strokes are now blue, which means the contrast with the yellow is less powerful.")

2. How does the museum honor the life of Vincent Van Gogh?

Through our collection, our exhibitions and the constant research we do at the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. We make his legacy accessible for the world.

(Image courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum. Image is of The Bedroom by Vincent Van Gogh. The museum discusses this painting significance when it says, " While he was in Arles, Van Gogh made this painting of his bedroom in the Yellow House. He prepared the room himself with simple furniture and with his own work on the wall. The bright colours were meant to express absolute ‘repose’ or ‘sleep’. Research shows that the strongly contrasting colours we see in the work today are the result of discolouration over the years. The walls and doors, for instance, were originally purple rather than blue. The apparently odd angle of the rear wall, meanwhile, is not a mistake on Van Gogh’s part – the corner really was skewed. The rules of perspective seem not to have been accurately applied throughout the painting, but this was a deliberate choice. Vincent told Theo in a letter that he had deliberately ‘flattened’ the interior and left out the shadows so that his picture would resemble a Japanese print. Van Gogh was very pleased with the painting: ‘When I saw my canvases again after my illness, what seemed to me the best was the bedroom.")

3. How has the museum evolved in the wake of COVID-19?

Due to gouvermental regulations we had to close down for a while. During the rest of the pandemic numbers of visitors were restricted, due to the 1,5 meter rule.

(Image courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum. Image is of Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent Van Gogh. This painting's significance is described as the following, " Wheatfield with Crows is one of Van Gogh's most famous paintings. It is often claimed that this was his very last work. The menacing sky, the crows and the dead-end path are said to refer to the end of his life approaching. But that is just a persistent myth. In fact, he made several other works after this one. Van Gogh did want his wheatfields under stormy skies to express 'sadness, extreme loneliness', but at the same time he wanted to show what he considered 'healthy and fortifying about the countryside'.Van Gogh used powerful colour combinations in this painting: the blue sky contrasts with the yellow-orange wheat, while the red of the path is intensified by the green bands of grass.")


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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