Things are going well for me here, I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is?
Letter to Theo van Gogh, January 1874
A few weeks ago I went to London and saw the Van Gogh exhibition shown at the Tate Britain. Now, Van Gogh isn’t exactly up-and-coming and we have all seen various shows featuring his famous works. This particular exhibition though left me elevated and inspired. So much so that it still is very much fresh in my mind. This is why I decided to write about it here, even though the exhibition has ended a few days ago.
One thing that stroke me about the exhibition was the original angle chosen by the curators : Van Gogh’s relationship with England, and how he influenced modern British art. For once, the emphasis wasn’t so much on his many life struggles dealing with poverty, mental illness and lack of recognition, but on his life as a young man moving to London to work for an art dealer. This brings me to my second point: I learned SO MUCH about Van Gogh’s life thanks to this exhibition – like how he enjoyed walking along the Thames every day to go to work, or how he loved prints and collected over two thousands throughout his life. I also found out that he started drawing when he was writing letters to his family back in Holland. He would describe familiar sceneries and sites and would often add drawings for better understanding. He was also very moved by the life conditions of the working class and this concern is visible in his paintings.
All in all, the exhibition enlightened me on Van Gogh’s inspirations and life choices that then brought him to become one of the most important artist of the 19th century.
Sadly, the exhibition is now over, but I strongly encourage you to get the exhibition catalogue if you are interested in Van Gogh’s life.