Many artists of this time felt that getting into the countryside was important in discovering the essence of art, and in 1888, van Gogh followed his muse to Arles, where he remained until 1889. He also had another motive: improving his health, which had deteriorated. As is well known, he successfully enticed Paul Gauguin, an artist with whom van Gogh was obsessed, to join him in the south of France. It was here that van Gogh really started cooking, creating some of the greatest paintings of all time. There are many gorgeous landscapes from this period in the show, including "Pollard Willows at Sunset," from 1888.

The most famous paintings in the show — and among the most valuable — are the two portraits of the Roulin family from 1888. "Postman Joseph Roulin" and "Portrait of Madame Augustine Roulin and Baby Marcelle" are aboslutely stunning and worth the admission price to the show all by themselves.

In 1889 and 1890, van Gogh underwent psychiatric treatment overseen by Dr. Paul Gachet. The paintings in the DAM show from this time are stunning. Do not miss "Landscape From Saint-Rémy" and the breathtaking "The Poplars at Saint-Rémy," both from 1889, and "Undergrowth With Two Figures," from 1890. In July of that year, van Gogh died from a gunshot wound that was long thought to be self-inflicted, though recently it's been suggested that he was murdered.

"Postman Joseph Roulin," oil on canvas.
"Postman Joseph Roulin," oil on canvas.

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Denver Art Museum

100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway
Denver, CO 80204

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Central Denver

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Photos: Becoming van Gogh at the Denver Art Museum

Through January 20, Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000, www.denverartmuseum.org. Advance tickets required.

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And although the artist's career was relatively short, Standring walks us through it in detail, showing us his sources, even including works by his aesthetic mentors Millet, Signac and Hiroshige. And Standring illustrates with props and artifacts the way in which van Gogh taught himself to draw and paint through a home-study course and a brief stint of formal training. The exhibit must have been a monumental effort, with the seventy included objects coming from sixty different lenders. The correspondence alone must have been staggering.

Becoming van Gogh is a blockbuster that will only be presented in Denver, and for so many reasons, it deserves to sell out. The trouble is, it is selling out. That means that if you want to see it — especially with the holidays coming ­— you'd be wise to get your tickets as soon as possible.

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