CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Van Gogh: face to face

Exhibition: 2 July - 24 September 2000

From the museum website, 24 February 2009

What impassions me most – much, much more than all the rest of my métier – is the portrait, the modern portrait,” Vincent wrote to his younger sister in early June 1890, a month before his death. “I should like – you see, I’m far from saying that I can, but I’m going to try anyway – I should like to do portraits which will appear as revelations to people in a hundred years’ time.”

More than a century after the artist’s death, the exhibition Van Gogh: Face to Face will reunite more than seventy of his finest portraits for the first time in any major museum. Works from all stages of his brief career will be featured, including not only the famous, intensely-colored portraits he painted in France, but also the little-known but striking studies of characters that he encountered in his native Netherlands. Paintings and drawings from museums and private collections all over the world have been selected to tell the story of the artist’s fascination with the human image, with what he called “impassioned expressions.”

One of the highlights of the exhibition will be an extraordinary assembly of the artist’s self-portraits, from the earliest paintings done shortly after his arrival in Paris in 1886 to the haunting canvas completed a few months before his death in 1890. In addition, the Van Gogh: Face to Face will showcase a remarkable group of seventeen portraits of the family of Joseph Roulin, the postman at Arles, including the MFA’s two magnificent oils of Roulin and of his wife, Augustine.


Van Gogh face to face: the portraits
Roland Dorn and Katherine Sachs
Catalogue of an exhibition held in 2000 in Detroir (Detroit Institute of Arts) and Boston (Museum of Fine Arts) and in 2000-01 in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
272 pp.
London (Thames and Hudson) 2000
ISBN 0-500-09290-7 (hardbound)

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