Vincent van Gogh and Expressionism in Amsterdam
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Vincent van Gogh and Expressionism in Amsterdam
Vincent van Gogh, The Road Menders, 1889. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC.

AMSTERDAM.- The Van Gogh Museum presents today Vincent van Gogh and Expressionism which is jointly organised with the Neue Galerie in New York, on view through March 4, 2007. This is the first show to highlight the impact of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) on German and Austrian Expressionists and comprises almost a hundred paintings, prints and drawings from the Van Gogh Museum and the Neue Galerie in New York, as well as loans from other major international museums and private collections. USG People is the main sponsor of this exhibition.

Museum directors and private collectors in both Germany and Austria were among the first to start buying the work of Vincent van Gogh and by 1914 there were no less than 164 works by Van Gogh in German and Austrian collections. The many travelling exhibitions that were organised helped expose an entire generation of young, modern artists to Van Gogh’s expressive works. Early purchases, such as Van Gogh’s Poppies in the Field (1889, Kunsthalle Bremen) which led to tumultuous debates after Bremen museum had acquired the painting, and Vineyards at Auvers (1890, Saint Louis Art Museum), are featured in this exhibition.

Van Gogh’s influence is evident in many Expressionist works as painters emulated the pure, bright colours of his paintings in their own art. Van Gogh’s emphatic brushwork and his contrasting colour combinations also made a profound impression. By showing works by Van Gogh side by side with works by young Expressionists the exhibition reveals the full extent of this influence. Original letters, pre-1914 exhibition catalogues as well as an audiovisual presentation further enrich the display. The show is divided into four themes:

Van Gogh and Die Brücke - Die Brücke was founded in 1905 in Dresden by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Exhibitions of paintings and drawings by Van Gogh in Germany in 1905 and 1908 brought this group of young artists under the spell of the Dutchman’s work. This section features paintings by, amongst others, Max Pechstein, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich Heckel.

Van Gogh and Der Blaue Reiter - In Munich, the artists of Der Blaue Reiter had discovered Van Gogh’s work in Paris before viewing it in their own country. Van Gogh was a major influence, especially on their emotional approach of their early landscapes. Wassily Kandinsky’s Murnau Street with Women (1908, Private collection, Courtesy of Neue Galerie, New York) and August Macke’s Vegetable Fields (1911, Kunstmuseum Bonn) are fine examples of this. Franz Marc drew inspiration from Van Gogh’s technique.

Van Gogh and Vienna - Work by Van Gogh was shown in Vienna in 1903 and 1906, inspiring local artists with his innovative technique. They also emulated his intense, psychological approach to portraiture, as the astonishing figures painted by Oskar Kokoschka demonstrate. Richard Gerstl and Egon Schiele identified with Van Gogh’s tragic personality in their many portraits and self portraits. Schiele also painted versions of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Schiele’s painting Autumn Sun (1914, Private collection), showing fading sunflowers, was feared lost since the Second World War and is one of the surprises of the show. It will be displayed alongside Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1889, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).

Van Gogh and (self) portraiture - The final section of the exhibition focuses on Van Gogh’s influence on Expressionist portraiture and self portraits. The psychologically powerful self portraits by Van Gogh, which inspired artists such as Emil Nolde, Erich Heckel and Lovis Corinth, are presented alongside penetrating self portraits by these Expressionist artists. Their use of pose, introspective expression and piercing eyes, combined with intense brushwork, clearly reveal Vincent van Gogh’s influence.

Following its debut in Amsterdam, Vincent van Gogh and Expressionism can be seen in the Neue Galerie, New York, from 23 March to 2 July 2007 (

Catalogue - A richly illustrated catalogue, Vincent van Gogh and Expressionism accompanies the exhibition, written by guest curator Jill Lloyd, 160 pages, 125 illustrations, available in English, Dutch, German and French, published by Hatje Cantz Verlag, in cooperation with Waanders Publishers and Gallimard. Price: € 24.95 (museum edition). On sale at the museum shop, via and in bookstores.

Expressive! - Alongside the main exhibition, Expressive! is a show for children inspired by Vincent van Gogh, initiated as part of the Van Gogh Museum Bus project which brings school children from all parts of Holland to the Van Gogh Museum. Following a poster competition three school classes have been selected to make paintings inspired by Van Gogh. Expressive! is a Van Gogh Museum and promoting partner Rabobank initiative.

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