Thursday, August 9, 2012

Van Gogh in Ottawa I

We took a break from the construction project and headed to the National Gallery to see the Van Gogh Exhibition "Van Gogh Up Close".

Interesting.  I mean it, very interesting.  This exhibit and its education aspect was quite new to me.  The paintings were from the Paris (1886) through the Auvers-Sur-Oise (1890) period.  The focus was on the major influences on Van Gogh during the final years of his life and how he internalized them.  None of the common masterpieces such as Starry Night were shown.

Starry Night

What was shown were the paintings resulting from the influences in his life as he was exposed to the Impressionists (Monet, Pissaro, Renoir etc.) and post Impressionists (Cezanne, Gaugin, Seurat, Signac, Toulouse -Lautrec, Bernard etc.) in Paris.  He was astonished by their use of colour.  He lightened his palette.  He was influenced by the application of paint.  He worked on still lives to try out these ideas and develop his application of paint to be more unique.  He was concerned about being a significant artist.


Here Van Gogh worked on colour.


He lightened his palette and experimented with the application of paint.  Seurat's pointillism is evidenced in the background as short strokes of paint are used to provide broken colour and vibration (complements).  Notice how the table on the left side disappears into the background.  A modern approach.

Vase with Flowers

More stroke development.  No shadows.  The idea of local tone painting and decoration.  Post Impressionist idea.

If you look back into Van Gogh's earlier art you will pick up on his fascination with close up views of simple things such as books and shoes.  He took this tendency in addition to the colour and paint application experiments to images such as the following.

Apples an Basket

Here we see more exaggerated brush strokes and the elimination of the traditional background with attention to close details.  When you see this simple composition in real life the brush strokes are electrifying.  The painting jumps at you, yet displays a certain calm.

Finally, note the tilt on the basket giving it life as opposed to the static traditional image of a basket of fruit on a flat level surface.  Some Cezanne here.

Some of these influences came from other sources.  Next time I'll address some of these.


  1. Very interesting, thanks, I'm looking at Van Gogh for my school work at the moment and this helps!

  2. Van Gogh has been portrayed as many things. It is interesting to get insight into his artistic concepts and influences.

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