After the most challenging of times, exhibition organisers have at last got Vincent’s paintings travelling again. Covid-19 closed virtually all venues for part of last year, with most Van Gogh shows having to be delayed. Even when venues reopen, the logistical problems of sending priceless art around the world are daunting.
Hopefully the situation will soon begin to ease. But visitor numbers for exhibitions are expected to remain low this year, not attracting the more than 500,000 people that the most popular Van Gogh shows would attract pre-Covid. Once international tourism recovers, probably in the next couple of years or so, the queues around the block will return. In the meantime, the good news for exhibition visitors is that they will have more space to savour the art.
Astonishingly, the Courtauld Gallery is holding what will be the first exhibition to cover Van Gogh’s self-portraits from his entire career. Van Gogh Self-Portraits (3 February-8 May) will reassemble nearly half of his output, 15 of the 35 works. International loans for this major show should be coming from Washington DC, Chicago, Detroit, Hartford (Connecticut), Paris, Oslo, Zurich, Amsterdam and Otterlo.
Seeing the works together may shed further light on why Vincent was such a prolific self-portraitist. Was it a form of self-introspection? Or simply a way of trying out various techniques and colour combinations?
Fukuoka and Nagoya
The Kröller-Müller Museum is touring some of its finest works to Japan, in an exhibition titled Collecting Van Gogh: Helene Kröller-Müller’s Passion for Vincent’s Art. On view are nearly 50 Van Gogh works, along with 20 pieces by other artists.
The show closed in Tokyo last month and has just opened at the Fukuoka Art Museum (until 13 February). It then moves to the Nagoya City Art Museum (23 February-10 April).
Columbus and Santa Barbara
The US show Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources runs for another month at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio (until 6 February). It then goes on to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (27 February-22 May).
As we have reported, it will be quite a different show at the two venues. At Santa Barbara there will be 20 works by Van Gogh, alongside more than 100 works by other artists of his time.
Dallas and Amsterdam
Van Gogh and the Olive Groves is still on at the Dallas Museum of Art (until 6 February). It then moves to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (11 March-12 June). In Amsterdam it will include 25 works by Van Gogh.
The show, based on an international research project, focuses on the olive trees that proved such an inspiration for Vincent when he was staying at the asylum on the outskirts of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The loans include a painting of an olive grove that has an 18cm trail left behind by an insect that became stuck in Van Gogh’s impasto—evidence that the picture was done outside among the trees, not in the studio.
Van Gogh in America (2 October-22 January 2023) was scheduled to open at the Detroit Institute of Arts in June 2020, but was postponed because of Covid-19. Back at the start of the pandemic it seemed an unduly long delay, but it has turned out to be very prudent.
The show will break new ground by examining how Van Gogh was discovered by US collectors, museums and art lovers. In terms of loans, it will be the most ambitious Van Gogh exhibition of the year, with 70 works by the master coming from an astonishingly wide range of lenders. This is likely to be the Van Gogh highlight of 2022.
Amsterdam and Vienna
Taking a fresh approach, the last Van Gogh show of the year will examine the artist’s influence on the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, who was nine years his junior. Klimt: Inspired by Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh (working title) will open at the Van Gogh Museum (7 October-8 January 2023) in Amsterdam. It then moves to Vienna’s Belvedere (27 January 2023-29 May 2023), home of Klimt’s The Kiss (1908-09).
At the Belvedere there will be 90 paintings and drawings, half by Klimt, along with works by other artists whom he admired. There will be only four Van Goghs in Vienna, but more are expected at the Amsterdam presentation. This exciting show has been based on a five-year research project by the two museums.
Other Van Gogh news
• Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum was required to close on 18 December 2021 because of Covid-19. If the situation improves it may be possible to reopen on 15 January, providing a last chance to see the exhibition The Potato Eaters: Mistake or Masterpiece? (until 13 February). It has just been announced that in 2021 the museum attracted 366,000 visitors, compared with 2.1m in 2019, before the pandemic.