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Influences and innovation
from 14th May until 11th September 2016

The exhibition Van Gogh in Provence: Modernizing Tradition brings together 31 paintings – of which 29 have never before been shown in Arles – from the collections of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo.

The third retrospective devoted to Vincent van Gogh at the Fondation, it confirms the institution’s major role in facilitating an ongoing examination of the artist’s work and thinking, namely by presenting these latter in constant interaction with contemporary artistic production. Thus Van Gogh in Provence: Modernizing Tradition is accompanied by a concurrent solo show of British painter Glenn Brown.

Selected by Sjraar van Heugten, one of the world’s foremost experts on Van Gogh, the 31 paintings on display offer a panorama of seven years of intense activity, culminating in the artist’s stay in Provence, during which he produced some 500 works. 

Over the course of the rooms, Van Gogh’s palette becomes – as he puts it himself – more “exaggerated”, his brushstroke more forceful and his composition more audacious, yet all the while preserving a remarkable continuity in his choice of motif. Van Gogh constantly experiments with ways of modernising landscape, portraiture and the still life – the traditional genres to which he remains unwaveringly attached, following in the steps of his revered masters: Rembrandt, Hals, Delacroix, Millet, Breton and other artists of the Barbizon School. 

The canvases that have been selected allow us to follow Van Gogh’s artistic quest from its beginnings right up to his death: in Nuenen in the Dutch province of Brabant, where his humanism leads him to portray the rugged existence of rural peasants; in Paris, where he paints his own portrait for the first time and ventures upon vibrant colour contrasts in floral still lifes; in Provence, where he finds the glorious southern light and which exalts the face of nature; and finally at Auvers-sur-Oise, whose wheat fields captivate him one last time and open up the path to contemporary abstraction.