More than 100 years after his death, Vincent van Gogh (1853- 1890) continues to enthrall the public, with name recognition and a global following exceeding even Warhol — a renown strangely at odds with the Dutch painter’s challenging road as an artist struggling with mental health issues who only sold a handful of works during his lifetime. Now, the post-Impressionist’s popularity has crescendoed yet again, with three van Gogh exhibitions/experiences having gripped Dallas’ culture-seeking audience this fall, paired with a just-released book that serves up a surprisingly fresh take on his life and art. The more experiential interpretations of the artist’s legacy may have come and gone, but perhaps the most fascinating exhibit, “Van Gogh and the Olive Groves,” is still on view through February 6, 2022.
The focused exhibition offers a glorious and scholarly paean to a series painted during the seminal period when van Gogh was healing at the asylum of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Reunited for the first time since they were painted between June and December 1889, van Gogh’s 15 intensely observed paintings of olive groves come together at the Dallas Museum of Art, along with drawings, borrowed primarily from eminent European and American collections.
This is the first museum exhibition devoted to the artist’s lyrical, expressive olive groves; it’s co-organized by the DMA, where the exhibit launches, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where the exhibition lands next spring. The latter owns the mother lode of the artist’s works — the largest cache in the world. Cocurated by Nicole R. Myers of the DMA and Nienke Bakker at the Van Gogh Museum, the exhibition promises insights based on new state-of-the-art conservation and scientific research collaboratively undertaken on the painting on loan.
More to Love
Those obsessed with van Gogh and the transformative era of the late-19th century where his life played out will love the new volume In Search of van Gogh: Capturing the Life of the Artist Through Photographs and Paintings (HarperCollinsPublishers). Both art book and travelogue, it represents a collaboration that began in 1990 between photographers Danilo De Marco and Mario Dondero and art historian Gloria Fossi.
Unique among van Gogh volumes, it cracks open every chapter in the artist’s life as the photographers retrace his travels, often by taking their own arduous journey on foot. The result is a richly textured portrait of one of the world’s most intuitive and ground-breaking painters.