Friday, 8 August 2014

Van Gogh in Arles

Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles (South of France) from 20 February 1888 until 8 May 1889. During these 444 jours he produced around 200 paintings, 100 drawing and watercolours. This is an incredibly intense production, considering the size of some of the paintings.

He also wrote more than 200 letters during his stay in Arles. Here is his first impression of Arles in a letter to his brother Theo datedTuesday 21 February 1888:

“I saw some magnificent red land planted with vines and mountains of the finest lilac at the back. And landscapes under the snow with white peaks against a sky that was as bright as the snow were much like winter landscapes the Japanese did.”

I found multiple references to van Gogh while visiting Arles.

The van Gogh Pharmacy

Van Gogh monument in Le jardin d’été (The summer garden)

We also visited the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles that opened its doors to the public on 7th April 2014, with a first exhibition titled "Van Gogh live!" (7 avril – 31 août 2014).

The museum was very well conceived, blending modern additions to The Hôtel Léautaud de Donines, an old mansion house built in the fifteenth century. The exhibition space is generous and receives good light.

From the terrace of the museum, you can enjoy a good view of Arles rooftops.

Arles rooftops from the Fondation’s terrace

Raphael Hefti’s glass installation from the terrace

The exhibition shows around 10 oil paintings by Van Gogh, some from the early days (when he still used a brown palette) and some beautiful later paintings done in Arles or its region, on loan from the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.

The Yellow House – Oil on canvas (76 cm /29.9 in x 94 cm / 37 in) by Vincent van Gogh. [Source: Wikimedia]

The Zouave oil on canvas (65 x 54 cm) by Vincent van Gogh [Source: Wikimedia]

View of Saintes-Maries - Oil on canvas (53 x 64 cm) by Vincent van Gogh [Source: WikiArt

The exhibition also featured paintings from artists that influenced van Gogh (Daubigny, Courbet, and Gauguin for instance) and a series of Japanese prints — the same that van Gogh owned, including some very nice prints by Hiroshige. Van Gogh, like Monet, was fond of Japanese prints and has been influenced by them (The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam houses a unique collection of almost 500 Japanese prints, most of them collected by Vincent and Theo van Gogh).

The exhibition also shows works by contemporary artists inspired by the work of van Gogh.

The Fondation

The Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles
35 ter rue du Docteur Fanton - 13200 ARLES - France

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