Make sure you are in Melbourne between late April and early July to see the important Van Gogh exhibition coming to the NGV. Van Gogh and the Seasons comprising 50 paintings and drawings, the largest collection of his works to come to Australia, is drawn mostly from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, a village notable only for its amazing museum. Although Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was a prolific artist, producing over 2,100 works including 860 oils and 1,300 works-on-paper, commercially he was a failure, possibly selling only one painting. This is perplexing, as his family were successful art dealers in The Hague, with a branch in London; indeed Vincent went to work there in 1873.
In London, drawn to religion, Vincent taught at a Methodist boys’ school where he was a lay preacher. It was the first of three unsuccessful attempts to become a Protestant minister. From 1880, he devoted himself to painting; his output was extraordinary until his self-inflicted death in July, 1890. Recognition, denied him in life, came within ten years of his death. An object of fascination in popular culture, van Gogh has been the subject of 17 films, including Lust for Life (1956), Paul Cox’s Vincent (1987) and, on release this year, Loving Vincent, the first fully painted feature film. He has also been the subject of 11 popular songs, notably Don McLean’s Vincent with its evocative opening line ‘Starry, starry night’.
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