In his life Vincent Van Gogh never sold a painting nor received great acclaim, so he would have been blown away by the crowds flocking to view his work at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The comprehensive exhibit includes work of his entire career which began in Nuenen with stints in Paris, Provence and Arvers. It was in Arvers that he died in the loving arms of his brother Theo at the age of 37.
Maybe one of the reasons the exhibition has drawn such crowds is the familiarity of his name. Mention Van Gogh and many think first of him as the artist who cut off his ear. What they might not know is that he did this after a violent argument with fellow artist Gauguin with whom he was sharing a house in Arles.
Another reason for his name being familiar is that some of his work has been reproduced on items from posters to umbrellas. One of Van Gogh’s most recognizable images is sunflowers. You may remember this piece having sold at auction several years ago for the most money ever paid for a painting. Only a copy is in the exhibit as the original is privately owned.
As I walked through the exhibit, several things impacted me about his work. One is how he presented people. In many of his early Nuenen pieces, he showed the hardships of rural life as in The Potato Eaters. Though not appreciated at the time, this painting is now regarded as his earliest masterpiece.
Many of his paintings, especially those done in Arles, indicated a fondness for yellow.
Alongside one such painting was the comment that yellow represented warmth and happiness to Van Gogh. Considering his mental instability, perhaps that was a good thing.
A recurring subject was people, especially their faces.
As I studied Van Gogh’s portraits, there seemed to be sadness reflected in the faces, and I couldn’t help but wonder about his state of mind.
Though an artist for only 10 years, Van Gogh was prolific. People, flowers, still lifes were the bulk of his subjects.
Initially, he copied images to hone his skill, but as he progressed as an artist he developed a style uniquely his own.
This exhibition was powerful and left me with much to think about so leaving there was relief in seeing a wonderful interactive area being enjoyed by all ages.
Seeing children creating their own masterpieces made my heart fill with joy. How lucky we are in Houston to have a museum that does so much to encourage interest in art.
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind