It was a personal trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art last February 18, 2012 and this wasn’t an assignment to share my experience after viewing the exhibit of Vincent van Gogh “Up Close”. But an artist of this magnitude and intensity cannot be kept under wraps for long, so let me write about the collection of works in this show and what resonated with me to know van Gogh.
Van Gogh is quantified for his use of vibrant colors, exuberant application of paint, and the exceptional intensity in the way he created which also translated into his tumultuous lust for life. For this particular exhibition, the works culled for this show focuses on the feverish period of artistic experimentation that began as van Gogh left Antwerp for Paris in 1886 and continued until his death in Auvers in 1890.
Most of the works were from various private collectors all over the world, who loaned out paintings with the very close range of subjects to be observed in detail. In this sense, we gain insight on what he saw, passionately felt, got inspired about, his process of distilling down techniques, throwing out rhetoric, and just paint what comes naturally. In seeing the shifting perspectives of his works where he brought familiar objects “up close”, the purity of form on a single object, the influence of Japanese prints with its rich exotic colors, the high horizon line that left slivers of sky, the undulating motion of rolling hills, skewed views and compositions which produced works that had never been seen before. In being a pioneer of change from the traditional, he was most misunderstood but the original unorthodox nature of his works dramatically altered the course of modern painting. The exhibition of 40 works from this master explores the rhyme and reason by which this impassioned artist made such unusual changes to his style in the final years of his life. A year before he died, he wrote in a letter to his sister, “I…am always obliged to go and gaze at a blade of grass, a pine-tree branch, an ear of wheat, to calm myself.”
Perhaps the most striking piece was the painting he did two months before he shot himself, it was a beautiful forest scene with the undergrowth verdant then punctuated by tree trunks in soft lavender with a couple walking in the foreground. The mystical scene speaks profoundly on how he walked to the beat of his own drum is simply astounding.
Van Gogh “Up Close”
Exhibition Dates: February 1 – May 6, 2012
Schedule: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am – 5 pm * Fridays late until 8:45 pm
Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Advanced Ticketing recommended:
article by: Oscar A. Laluyan