Van Gogh exhibit arrives in 2012

The biggest Van Gogh exhibition to come to this country in more than 20 years will arrive at the National Gallery of Canada in 2012, says a fundraising letter sent to gallery donors.

The show will include dozens of works by the storied master. It will open at the National Gallery in Ottawa next summer, though no specific date has yet been announced. Typically the gallery’s big summer shows run from June through October.

“The gallery will host Vincent Van Gogh: Up Close in 2012, the first major project devoted to the Dutch artist by a Canadian institution in two decades,” says the fundraising letter, dated Jan. 24 and received by many donors last week.

Beatrix, queen of the Netherlands, will be royal patron for the exhibition, though it is not yet clear if the Dutch queen will visit Ottawa.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is co-organizer of the exhibition with the National Gallery and, according to the museum’s website, Van Gogh: Up Close will be seen first in that city between Feb. 1 to May 6, 2012.

“In 1886, while living in Paris, Vincent van Gogh dramatically altered his manner of painting landscapes and still lifes. By experimenting with depth of field and focus and using shifting perspectives, he produced some of the most radical and original works of his career,” it says on the Philadelphia museum’s website.

“The exhibition explores the reasons and means by which van Gogh … made these innovative changes to his painting style.

“The first exhibition devoted to this unexplored aspect of the artist’s work, Van Gogh: Up Close will present some 45 paintings borrowed from collections around the world.”

The show will total 50 to 60 pieces. Which paintings will be in the exhibition remains to be seen, but it’s a safe bet that the National Gallery’s own Van Gogh masterpiece, the 1889 painting Iris, will play a big role. Iris is a crowd favourite and is possibly the single most valuable piece of art in the gallery’s collection. A similar Van Gogh painting of irises from the same year sold in 1987 for more than $50 million U.S., and could sell for more than double that amount today.

Van Gogh had an enormous influence over the art of the 20th century, but barely sold a painting before he died at age 37, impoverished and insane, in 1890.


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