Van Gogh back on the road: major exhibitions coming in 2022

With shows in London, Vienna, four American cities and of course Amsterdam—I choose the highlight of the year

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Adventures with Van Gogh

Adventures with Van Gogh is a weekly blog by Martin Bailey, our long-standing correspondent and expert on the artist. Published every Friday, his stories will range from newsy items about this most intriguing artist to scholarly pieces based on his own meticulous investigations and discoveries.

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.


London

Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait as a Painter (February 1888) Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

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

Collecting Van Gogh: Helene Kröller-Müller’s Passion for Vincent’s Art, which opened at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in autumn 2021 Photo: Ichiro Otani

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

Van Gogh’s Les Vessenots in Auvers (June 1890) Credit: Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

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

An insect trail through the paint, a microscopic detail of Van Gogh’s Olive Grove (July 1889) Courtesy of the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo; photomicrograph by Margje Leeuwestein


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.

Detroit

Van Gogh’s Stairway at Auvers (June 1890) Credit: Saint Louis Art Museum

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

Van Gogh’s The Plain of Auvers (June 1890) and Gustav Klimt’s Blooming Poppies (1907) Credit: Belvedere, 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.

Martin Bailey is the author of Van Gogh’s Finale: Auvers and the Artist’s Rise to Fame (Francis Lincoln, 2021, available in the UK and US). He is a leading Van Gogh specialist and investigative reporter for The Art Newspaper. Bailey has curated Van Gogh exhibitions at the Barbican Art Gallery and Compton Verney/National Gallery of Scotland. He was a co-curator of Tate Britain’s The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain (27 March-11 August 2019).

Martin Bailey’s recent Van Gogh books

Bailey has written a number of other bestselling books, including The Sunflowers Are Mine: the Story of Van Gogh's Masterpiece (Frances Lincoln 2013, available in the UK and US), Studio of the South: Van Gogh in Provence (Frances Lincoln 2016, available in the UK and US) and Starry Night: Van Gogh at the Asylum (White Lion Publishing 2018, available in the UK and US). Bailey's Living with Vincent van Gogh: the Homes and Landscapes that Shaped the Artist (White Lion Publishing 2019, available in the UK and US) provides an overview of the artist’s life. The Illustrated Provence Letters of Van Gogh has been reissued (Batsford 2021, available in the UK and US).

• To contact Martin Bailey, please email: vangogh@theartnewspaper.com. Please kindly refer queries about authentication of possible Van Goghs to the Van Gogh Museum.

Read more from Martin's Adventures with Van Gogh blog here

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