CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Van Gogh and Gauguin: the studio of the south

Exhibition: 25 September - 2 December 2001

From the Van Gogh museum website

The story of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin – their admiration for each other’s work, their friendship and rivalry and their brief period of collaboration in Arles in 1888 – is one of the most dramatic in the history of modern art. Everyone still remembers how Van Gogh cut a piece off his ear after a fierce quarrel with Gauguin. Their stormy lives forever established the image of the possessed artist, who gives up everything for the sake of his work. Each in his own way was a founder of modern art.

The tale of the two artists who lived and worked together and fought each other is well known, but has never been told in the form of an exhibition. The Van Gogh Museum is organising this unique presentation in close cooperation with the Art Institute of Chicago. Van Gogh & Gauguin will be on view in Chicago from 22 September 2001 to 13 January 2002. This presentation includes around twenty works from the Van Gogh Museum collection, including Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and the Yellow House, which are therefore temporarily not on display in Amsterdam.

The exhibition looks in detail at the relationship between Van Gogh and Gauguin in the context of their lives and work. From the moment they met in Paris through Theo van Gogh, similarities in the style and subject matter of their paintings quickly became evident. Van Gogh made ambitious plans to found an artists’ colony in Arles, the Studio of the South, which would breathe new life into French art. He finally succeeded in persuading Gauguin to join him in Arles. This marked the beginning of a brief but intense period of collaboration in the famous Yellow House, which lasted from October to December 1888. When they parted company after the dramatic quarrel, each found it almost impossible to escape the other’s influence.


The sunflower came to symbolise the events in Arles. To mark Gauguin’s arrival, Van Gogh painted several versions of the immortal sunflowers to decorate the Yellow House. The exhibition pays special attention to the works with sunflowers by each artist, and the importance of these paintings in their different oeuvres is emphasised.

The aim is to bring together as many versions as possible of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for the exhibition. It is already certain that for the first time since 1888 the version in the National Gallery in London and the two later versions from the Van Gogh Museum and the Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum in Tokyo will be hung side by side, so that they can be compared. Owing to the fragile state of the paintings, this presentation will be seen only in Amsterdam.

About 120 paintings, drawings, figures and letters are included in the exhibition. Some 20 works come from the collection of the Van Gogh Museum, and the rest from about 65 lenders all over the world.


Van Gogh and Gauguin: the studio of the south
Douglas W. Druick and Peter Kort Zegers, with contributions by Britt Salvesen, Kristin Hoermann Lister, Mary C. Weaver and Susan F. Rossen
Catalogue of an exhibition held in 2001 in Chicago and in 2002 in Amsterdam (Van Gogh Museum)
418 pp.
New York (Thames & Hudson), Chicago (The Art Institute of Chicago) and Amsterdam (Van Gogh Museum) 2001
ISBN 0-500-51054-7 (hardbound)
ISBN0-86559-194-6 (paperbound)

Dutch edition: Van Gogh en Gauguin: het atelier van het zuiden, translated from the English by Andrea Vreede
Zwolle (Waanders) 2002
ISBN 90-400-9637-6

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