Iconic. (In)famous. Brilliant. Manic. Genius. Misunderstood.
These are some of the many words used to describe the work and life of Vincent van Gogh, one of the 19th century’s most famous post-Impressionist European artists. We all know at least a handful of his paintings by subject if not by name—”Starry Night,” sunflowers, irises, cafés, self-portraits (with and without his right ear). His complex personality, his mental illness, and his short, but prolific ten-year career (2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life) have captivated people for hundreds of years.
Starting this Friday—and culminating in April 2019—the Yale Art Gallery will host a six-part lecture series entitled “Vincent van Gogh’s Turning Points” that will make a van Gogh expert out of anyone who want to listen and learn. Free and open to the public, John Walsh, director emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum and visiting professor in art history at Yale University, will take a deep dive into van Gogh’s development, interests, abilities, and visual language, his (sometimes tumultuous) encounters with other artists, his relationship with his brother, his writings, and personal, as well as spiritual crises.
Walsh will break the lectures into focusing on his early life and works in The Netherlands, his time and transformation in Paris, two sessions on the explosive 16 months van Gogh spent in Arles, France (explosive in artwork production, as well as the nine week love/hate friendship with fellow artist Paul Gauguin), his mental illness and time in an asylum at Saint-Rémy, France (where he did a ton of work despite being confined), and finally, the end years of his short life, plus the meteoric rise of van Gogh’s reputation and influence posthumously.
This is sure to be an amazingly rich learning experience—both visually and informationally. Yale Art Gallery is home to van Gogh’s “The Night Café” which will surely be covered in one of the lectures and definitely worth seeing in person while there. Two lectures will take place in October (5th and 12th), then the remaining four will happen April 5th, 12th, 18th, and 26th, 2019. So, get your listening ears on, your sketchbook out, and be prepared to have your eyes opened and your brain filled with van Gogh’s beautiful brushwork.
By Hannah F
Senior Art Director