We finally made it to see Becoming Van Gogh at the Denver Art Museum. This exhibition is being held in Denver only and the art is on loan from more than 60 public and private collections around the world.
“I’m an artist… those words naturally imply always seeking without ever fully finding.” ~Van Gogh
The exhibit explores van Gogh’s evolution as an artist through more than 70 of his paintings, alongside paintings from artists who played significant roles in his life. It’s a fascinating look at a short career of just 10 years, cut short by van Gogh’s untimely death at the age of 37.
As I wandered through the exhibit, I had the feeling that van Gogh spent much of his artistic life working to find his style, and I couldn’t help but wonder what his paintings may have looked like should have he lived to an old age.
Becoming Van Gogh is a walk through the evolution of the artist’s craft. Very little time is spent on van Gogh’s personal life, but instead, the curators have concentrated on his influences and the composition of his pieces.
The visitor plainly sees the artist experimenting with other people’s styles, but slowly finding his own path and his own light. Light plays a significant role in Van Gogh’s later works. His paintings glow with life and color, and look as though the artist might have completed the work yesterday instead of over 100 years ago.
If you are planning a visit, be aware that this is an exhibition is about Vincent van Gogh’s art. There is no mention of a missing ear or possible mental instability, and even van Gogh’s death is glossed over with no mention that many believe it was suicide.
Perhaps it is best that we remember artists for their art instead of their foibles. But isn’t it our foibles that make us who we are?
Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent exhibit, and the chance to see this collection of art is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I encourage you to go. I respect the museum for putting together a show concentrating specifically on van Gogh’s artistic ability so as not to get bogged down in the predictable conversation about madness.
However, as a storyteller, I would have enjoyed more of a peek into van Gogh’s personal life, because I believe an artist’s internal conflicts influences his or her canvas, just as much or more than the other artists in his or her life.
Becoming Van Gogh is only at the Denver Art Museum through January 20, 2013. It is so popular that overnight hours have been added on the final weekend. I would advise that you buy your tickets in advance at DenverArtMuseum.org.
NOTE: If you go, don’t miss the Painter’s Studio on the main level of the museum. Harness your inner artist in this interactive exhibit that provides guests with all the tools of the craft.
Up next at the Denver Art Museum, Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land, opening February 10. Learn more about this exhibition at the Denver Art Museum’s blog.