Timothy Standring, curator of the Denver Art Museum's exclusive exhibition Becoming Van Gogh, traveled the world for several years to beg and borrow the show's more than seventy paintings and drawings. It wasn't an easy task. "People aren't going to loan works by van Gogh, arguably the most well-known artist on the face of earth, simply based on a well-written loan letter," he admits.
All photos courtesy of the Denver Art Museum and contributing collections.
But Standring wanted to build an exhibit that made the case for a new way to look at van Gogh, the rational artist, as opposed to the mythical mad soul who painted from his gut and not from his brain. And gathering the right combination of works was integral to that purpose.
"Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat."
"This isn't a biographical exhibit," he says. "We spend more of a focus on van Gogh as the self-taught artist, showing him learning how to draw, learning to use color, draw the human figure.
"His works appeal to our sensibilities and the core of our notion of creativity. It's that predilection of the human mind to want to complete sentences. Mentally, we love his mark making. What I'm discovering in this exhibition is that it's a continuum in his career. He never stopped evolving in his short, pithy, ten-year career."
After his years of studying van Gogh's entire body of work, Standring has nothing but praise for the artist. He wonders, too, how much work van Gogh discarded as imperfect. "In his known corpus, it's difficult to find a dog, or something even a little weak," he says. "They're there, but for this guy, he's batting .325, year in and year out, for his ten-year career."
Standring's favorite painting in the show? "Grass and Butterflies" (see above).
Following is preview of works from different periods in van Gogh's life as an evolving artist.
"La Guinguette in Montmartre."
"Landscape Under a Stormy Sky."
"Peasants Planting Potatoes."
"Road in Etten."
"Basket with six oranges."
"Grapes, Lemons, Pears and Apples."
"Self-Portrait with Straw Hat."
"Wheatfield with Sheaves."
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