A never-before-seen timeline of Van Gogh
The genius of the man and the artist explored
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 23:11
The Denver Art Museum once again puts its city on the world-class art map. Following the success of the spring blockbuster Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, Denver magnetizes with Becoming Van Gogh, its fall exhibition.
The exhibition features about 70 artworks by Vincent Van Gogh, plus artworks by others who inspired him, such as Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Bernard.
Following the exhibit is like following a timeline, telling the story of Van Gogh’s phenomenal style. For him, it was essential to learn the drawing techniques first, so the opening room is dedicated to this period in his life, when he experimented with inks and pencils. The second step in his artistic training was mastering perspectives and moving into paintings. During this period, Van Gogh’s paintings look dark and have restricted palettes.
However, later on he finally gave in to color, and this is where visitors will start to see a more familiar Van Gogh. More colorful, more expressive paintings hint at a style to come later which ultimately made the artist famous. Finally, after maturing as an artist, Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese prints, and visitors will have a chance to compare works by Japanese artists and Van Gogh.
The last room is an artistic triumph of Vincent. Here, his well-recognized style is prominent, the color palettes are lively, and the brushwork is expressive. Here you will also find his three self-portraits. It is astonishing that so many artworks and so much development happened in just short the 10 years of Van Gogh’s career.
Becoming Van Gogh shows a different side of the artist; it reveals how sound and determined he was in his goals. The exhibition demonstrates not only the works, but also the tools and techniques used by the master. It also gives a peek into his thinking with numerous letters to his brother.
The museum’s curator, Timothy Standring, admits that this comprehensive exhibition took almost a decade to develop. From researching Van Gogh’s life, to landing the works, to stylizing the exhibition, it was a demanding process. With the extensive help of Louis van Tilborgh of the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum and loans from more than 60 private and public collections, Becoming Van Gogh is a one-of-a-kind exhibition.
Beyond just examining Van Gogh’s creative course, it is also an inspiration. Prior to his commitment to art, the art world marvel failed in four different careers. When he finally decided to become a painter, he taught himself how to draw, paint, apply color, and create dimensions. He also didn’t have money to afford models, so he painted himself and people around him.
Moreover, it was always his aspiration to depict simple, working people and worn-out objects as they were. Van Gogh retreated from academic paintings of perfect nudes. Although his artworks were not popular or accepted at that time, Van Gogh didn’t change his style to please anyone. The exhibition highlights the heights of individual creativity achieved through hard work and experimentation.