Sunday, March 7, 2010

Amsterdam Part 2 - Van Gogh Museum

This is, quite possibly, my favorite museum. With its rather modern and austere architecture, it houses some of the best in the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movement. This was quite a thrill to experience, though I am sad to report that "Starry Night" was not on display.
However, some classic Van Gogh's were present, as well as the small exhibition Masters from the Museum Mesdag and Painting in the Open Air: Myth and Reality. The Paul Gauguin exhibition was sadly, not open yet.

Here are some selections from Van Gogh Museum that really connected with me:

Anton Mauve
(these paintings was not at the museum, but I could not find images of the pieces I saw in person)
While visiting the museum, I discovered a new favorite artist, who wields a great infuence on my work. Anton Mauve (1838-1888) was a Dutch realist painter and the prominent figure in the Hague School. Vincent Van Gogh worked under his guidance for a short period of time until they had a falling out. In stark contrast to Van Gogh's style, it is no wonder that Mauve felt that Van Gogh should pursue more traditional and realistic drawings and painting techniques.

Vincent Van Gogh
And of course, the star of the museum is none other than Vincent Van Gogh. Upon seeing these works, my reaction was much like the one I had towards Rembrandt's at the Rijks; I don't think I ever really understood Van Gogh until this very moment. Van Gogh's work has always been a great inspiration to me. His work is so intriguing, and though the term "timeless" seems so cliche, it is truly fitting for his style. The pieces I saw truly stand the test of time; they could hang in any contemporary gallery, with the prominent artists of today and still look fresh, innovative and new.

I was, however disappointed with his color, particularly in his earlier work. The colors are incredibly dull, muddied and impure. But this does, however, really give them a mood and atmosphere appropriate of the time and of Europe's cold, cloudy environment.

Particular pieces that really caught my eye:

Vincent Van Gogh
"Almond Tree in Blossom" 1888 (Arles)
This work really inspires me; in its quiet simplicity and elegance it stands out as being quite contemporary. Each mark feels deliberate and well orchestrated. Though the value is rathe shallow, Van Gogh (as always) utilizes color and texture to denote the subject's volume an spatial relativity. The composition is rather stark and the placement of the tree and cropping makes for an incredibly strong image. Of course, it reflects Van Gogh's infatuation for Japanese woodblock prints, a rather popular source of inspiration for artists of the time period.

Van Gogh
"The Bridge in the Rain (after Hiroshige)" 1887 (Paris)
Naturally, this piece is a direct and deliberate attempt to capture the essence and style of Japanese woodblock prints, and specifically the prolific works of Hiroshige. Though this is oil on canvas, Van Gogh successfully created flat planes of color to mimic that of a wooblock, as well as incorporating line and border details. This piece really sticks out among the rest of Van Gogh's work.

"Bridge in the Rain" 1800's
(for comparison)
Vincent Van Gogh
"The Langlois Bridge" 1888
The composition & use of outline is what struck me the strongest about this Van Gogh piece. The color is soft and muted (but not so much like his earlier muddied up works). This painting gives a feeling being a sketch; something so effortless it feels like a thought or a memory, as opposed to being a painting. The single most important part are the silhouetted figures on the bridge; the entire composition relies on these 3 dark points, balancing out the shadow below the small boat and bringing the eye down the path along to water to the focal point.

Van Gogh
"Self Portrait" 1886 (Paris)
Though this is not the stereotypical Van Gogh portrait, I thoroughly enjoy is sensitivity and level of realism. It is very much a reflection of Van Gogh's training with the Hague School master, Anton Mauve. Though again, the color lacks a level of purity and richness that can be found in his earlier works.

Also on display was a exhibition called "Meesters Uit Museum Mesdag", showcasing works from the Hague School Masters. Artists showcased were:
  • Charles Rochussen (watercolors)
  • Mose de Giusseppe Bianchi
  • Jacob Morris
  • Johannes Bosboom
  • Anton Mauve
  • Hein Haverman
  • Giovanni Segantini
  • J.H. Weissenbruch
  • Charles Daubigny
  • Jean-Francois Millet
  • Antonio Mancini
  • Willem Vaarzonmorel
  • Marius Bauer
  • Emile breton
  • Gustave Courbet
  • Hendrik Willem Mesdag
  • Jan Veth
  • Barbara Van Houten
  • Pieter de Josselin de Jong
  • Emile Bernard
  • Odilon Redon
Until Next Time,

1 comment:

  1. Good to read what you've been seeing, Laura! And interesting about Van Gogh's colors. The south of France inspired those later, bright colors...his earlier works were painted with a different kind of light.

    I never heard of Mauve - but nice to see his work. How can you take something from him but make it 21st century? That might be a nice project... Take care... Ann