Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Myth and mysteries surrounding Van Gogh

Van Gogh was prolific as an artist for just about a decade, the time period during which he created over 1000 watercolors, sketches and drawings apart from 1250 paintings that ranged from an intense, expressionistic style to a dark, Realist style one.

The Dutch painter’s life and work are legendary in the history of 19th- and 20th-century art. In the popular view, van Gogh has become the prototype of the misunderstood, tormented artist, who sold only one work in his lifetime—but whose ‘Irises’ (sold New York, Sotheby’s, 11 Nov 1987) achieved a record auction sale price of £49 million. Romantic clichés suggest that van Gogh paid with insanity for his genius, which was understood only by his supportive brother Theo (1857–91).

The Starry Night
A note on MOMA includes lines that van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, from France. "This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big Rooted in imagination and memory.” The work embodies an inner, subjective expression of van Gogh’s response to nature. In thick, sweeping brushstrokes, a flamelike cypress unites the churning sky and the quiet village below. The village was partly invented, and the church spire evokes van Gogh's native land, the Netherlands.
‘Study by Candlelight’
Meanwhile, ‘A Real Van Gogh? –An Unsolved Art World Mystery’ at Nevada Museum of art’ focuses solely on his ‘Study by Candlelight’. In 1948, William Goetz, the famed Hollywood producer, head of Universal Pictures, and legendary art collector, purchased a painting attributed to Vincent Van Gogh for $50,000. Although it was acquired from a reputable art dealer and deemed genuine by a prominent Van Gogh expert at the time, debate about the painting’s authenticity ignited an art world controversy that impacted U.S. foreign affairs.

For decades, only a handful of people knew the whereabouts of the painting. Today, the Goetz family heirs hope to learn more about the provenance of the painting by drawing upon recent scientific developments in the study of artist materials and working methods. The exhibition re-visits its extraordinary story through archival documents, correspondence, photographs, and press materials that have never before been brought together in one place. The presentation invites viewers and scholars to draw their own conclusions and weigh in on this great Van Gogh debate.

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