CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Vincent van Gogh: nature close-up

Exhibition: 9 April - 7 July 2008

From the museum website

Eight paintings by Vincent van Gogh, including the famous Almond Tree in Blossom (1888), will be presented at Rijksmuseum’s branch at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol from 9 April to 7 July 2008 in an exhibition entitled Vincent van Gogh: Nature Close-Up. All the paintings have been provided by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The show highlights how Vincent van Gogh took his own remarkable approach to nature, by effectively zooming in on his subject. The presentation can be seen at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (airside area, between piers E and F) and offers a unique opportunity for passengers at the airport to view the artist’s work away from the Van Gogh Museum.

Vincent van Gogh approached nature in his own idiosyncratic way by taking a close-up view. That is the central theme of the exhibition at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol. Drawing from nature close-up had been one of the challenges that Van Gogh had taken up since the start of his French period. He did this by painting still lifes with beautiful flowers in full bloom, or by placing a small delicate blossoming tree in the foreground of a work. He had been captivated by Japanese prints while in Paris. The influence of these colourful graphic depictions, in which the natural world is often depicted in great detail, is illustrated in the show with the inclusion of a number of superb Japanese woodcuts. Van Gogh’s fascination with nature also had a salutary effect on the artist, as he wrote to his sister Wil, whenever he was nervous or upset he would ”look at a blade of grass, a branch of a pine, an ear of corn to calm myself”.

Exhibits have been chosen for Vincent van Gogh: Nature Close-Up from the across artist’s career, although concentrating on the period after 1886. In fact the show offers a brief overview of Van Gogh’s artistic development. In a way, this is symbolised by the canvas painted on two sides: one side showing an early painting of a woman’s head in typically dark hues; the other, a colourful Parisian vegetable garden with sunflowers.