Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh

Posted by on January 10, 2014 in culture | Comments Off on Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh

I consider myself to be a museum person, especially an art museum person.  I love spending hours in a fine collection, and my interests in Western Art range from early medieval to mid-20th century.  I have a soft spot for the Impressionists (yes, I know that’s so declasse), and for the post-Impressionists.  I’ve always loved Van Gogh (a love enhanced by his tragic personal story.)

So I was more than a bit astonished by the current show at the Phillips Collection in DC — Van Gogh Repetitions.  The relatively small, extremely well-curated show looks at the paintings that Van Gogh repeated multiple times in his career — The Postman, The Berceuse, L’Arlesienne, the Bedroom at Arles, and a few others.

I’ve studied Monet’s series.  I can prattle on about haystacks and Waterloo Bridge and Rheims Cathedral, etc.  But I’d *never* heard Van Gogh discussed in terms of series before.  And I’d never read about the debates of which painting came first in his series.

I’d also never thought of Van Gogh as an artist who used *tools*.  Sure, he used his paintbrushes and palette knives and that sort of thing.  But the show presents evidence that he used special frames, to transfer the design from one version of his painting to the next.  And that he set his work on a grid to facilitate other copies.  The tools made him seem more like Caravaggio than like a madman throwing paint on canvas, with crows of suicide flocking in the background.

All in all, an *amazing* show.  I love living in D.C.