Monday, December 7, 2015

Amsterdam - Van Gogh Museum

Date of Visit: 11th October 2015

I accidentally misplaced my handphone on the reception desk while passing them the room key before we went out after lunch heading towards the museums direction. Luckily that the hotel kept the phone save for this careless person. If not, the last leg would be a disastrous one without a hand phone and DSLR camera, i.e. a traveler who could not record the adventure! Therefore, all the photos in this entry are using Anne's collection. At the onset, I love everything in this museum, I mean everything about Van Gogh, although we have only 1 hour time left before the museum closing time for exploration. It's worthy though snapping photos inside the museum are forbidden.

My favorite photo

The Van Gigh museum houses the world's largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh, comprising about 200 paintings. Besides it has 500 drawings, 4 sketchbooks and around 800 letters. The core of the museum's collection came from the artist's family and is now the property of the Vincent Van Gogh foundations. The foundation also owns the private collection assembled by Van Gogh and his brother Theo, which consists of prints (many of them Japanese), magazine illustrations and paintings by artists friends including Henri de Toulouse Lautrec and Paul Gauguin. This collection, built up through exchanges and purchases was the starting point for the acquisition of new works.

Since the opening in 1973, the Van Gogh museum has enjoyed ever increasing popularity. Now, every year about 1.5 million peoples come to Amsterdam from all over the world to admire the works of van Gogh. The visitor can see through his paintings on how, in just 10 years Vincent evolved from a rather old fashioned working artist into one of the forerunners of the modern arts. As Van Gogh's work is shown alongside that of his predecessors, contemporaries and successors, it is clear to see how his artistic career fits into the art history of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Take notice that the ticket counters are located at the main building.

Not cheap okay. The entrance fee is Euro17/adult

We spent majority of our time in the new wings building that is designed by Kisho Kurokawa. The annexed is solely used for temporary exhibitions organised by the museum. Ellipse-shaped and partly below ground, the wings semicircular corridor, 2 large galleries and print room provide space for exhibitions on various of 19th century art. The construction of the wing was financed by generous donation from the Japan Foundation made possible by funds provided by Yasuda Fire & MarineInsurance Company Ltd. This new exhibition wing was opened in 1999. 

The collections in this museum has a long history. For those who knew the biography of Van Gogh, would know that all his painting belonged to his brother Theo. Theo was Vincent's younger brother who worked for the Paris art dealer in Paris. From the start of his career as an artist, Vincent has sent majority of his works to Theo in exchange for Theo's moral and financial support. After Theo's death in 1891, the collection was legally passed to his son Vincent Willem van Gogh. It was however, Theo's widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger that promotes Van Gogh's genius that eventually gained international recognition during the 2nd decade of the 20th century. At this point she decided to keep the rest of the collection together and rarely sold any after 1920 (she died in 1925). Johanna's son, decided to lend the majority of Van Gogh's work to Stedelijk Museum. After the 2nd world war, he has engineered to the future Van Gogh's museum by transferring the work to Van Gogh's foundation in 1962. Van Gogh museum was constructed in 1969 and opened on 2nd June 1973.

Before we adjourned to the main buildings with few minutes left, I had secretly and illegally snapped 4 photos of Van Gogh's best collection. You may see those taken in the last 4 photos after the big Sunflower print that has Anne inside. The main building contains mostly Van Gogh's sketchbooks and letters and Van Gogh's most important works that are exhibited in chronological order. It was done so for the visitor to follow the development of Van Gogh's, from his early works and scenes of peasant life produced in Nuenen, through his experiments with colour and techniques that he discovered in Antwerp and Paris to his culminating a masterpieces from Arles, Saint Remy and Auvers-sur-Oise.

Below is the painting that Van Gogh painted in 1889 when he resided in Arles. It was named "Ploughed Fields". During the initial weeks of autumn in 1899, Van Gigh has worked with great enthusiasm on a new series of rustic scenes. From time to time he was hampered by rainy weather when he was recorded saying "This was a little convenient, but in the sunny periods in between I have just completed a canvas on which ploughed fields are depicted. A blue sky with white clouds, an immense piece of ash-colored lilac, count less furrows and clods of earth, the horizon of blue hills and green bushes with small farms with orange roof". This work was described by Van Gogh's as "clods of earth mellow in color, like a pair of clogs with a sky of forget-me-not blue, fluffs of white clouds". The canvas is painted with thick brushstrokes. Vincent warned his brother Theo that it should dry a long time, for "with painting with thick impasto's you should proceed as with strong wine - it has to lie"

The Ploughed Fields

Vincent Van Gogh painted the famous "Sunflowers" in Arles in 1889. It was oil painting on canvas measuring 95 x 73 cm. The original painting is now hung in this museum (see below). A symphony in blue and yellow was how Van Gogh thought the interior of the yellow house should appear when his friend, Gauguin arrived. He wanted to impress his friend with a series of decorative still lifes of sunflowers. These still lifes were to grace the walls of Gauguin's bedroom and be framed with thin slats of wood, painted in red lead. 

The Sunflowers

Van Gogh started the series with great ardor. He had to work as quickly as the flowers quickly wilted in a vase: he was recorded saying "I am painting with the enthusiasm of a resident of Marseilles eating a fish soup, which shall not surprised you, when it involves painting a large sunflowers". Gauguin considered the paintings highly successful and declared that sunflowers should be Van Gogh's trademark. In 1889 Van Gogh tackled the motif once more, that is in the above framed painting that you may visit when you visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The museum also hold masterpiece from other famous artists too. They are among others artists, Jules Dupre (1840-1920), Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Edouard Manet (1832-1883), Henri Joseph Harpignies (1819-1916), Camille Pissaro (1830-1903), Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Paul Gauguin, Vincent's good friend. At the time of our visit, i.e. on 10th October 2015, the museum held an exhibition by displaying an arts of Vincent Van Gogh in comparing to Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter and printmaker whose intensely evocative treatment of psychological themes built upon some of some of the main tenets of late 19th century Symbolism. Vincent Van Gogh has influenced him a lot in his work. 

Last but not least, the compilation of Van Gogh's work in tthis video clip "Starry Starry Night" that I fully adored and admired. Do enjoy the song by Don Mc Clean and the paintings by Vincent Van Gogh.

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