Van Gogh Museum reopens with display on his craft
Visitors look at paintings by Van Gogh, "Sunflowers" and "La Berceuse (Woman Rocking a Cradle); Augustine Roulin" at Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The Van Gogh Museum has reopened its doors to the public after a seven-month renovation, kicking off with "Vincent At Work," an exhibition that shows Van Gogh's working methods, right down to the paints, brushes and other tools he used. (AP Photo/Vincent Jannink)
AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has reopened after a seven-month renovation, kicking off with "Van Gogh At Work," an exhibition that shows the famously tortured artist's working methods right down to his paints, brushes and other tools.
Appropriately, the final painting curators hung Wednesday was a self-portrait in which Vincent Van Gogh painted himself behind a canvas, brushes and palette in hand. Nearby, on loan from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, are an actual palette and paints that Van Gogh used.
Marije Vellekoop, head of collections, said they were preserved by Dr. Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, the physician who treated the artist in the final months before his 1890 suicide.
Although Van Gogh received little acclaim during in his life and sold few paintings, Gachet decided to hold on to some of his patient's tools.
"Van Gogh's star was starting to rise, and there had been an exhibition of his work," Vellekoop said. "Dr. Gachet saw his quality, or perhaps he had some vision of the future."
In all, 145 paintings and sketches are on display, almost double the museum's usual collection.
A highlight is the display of two versions of Van Gogh's famed yellow "Sunflowers," hung on either side of a green-dominated portrait he painted known as "La Berceuse."
In a surviving letter, Van Gogh indicated that he intended the paintings, which usually hang in three different museums, to be displayed that way. The museum displays a replica of part of the letter, which shows sketches of the three paintings in miniature.
Other displays show how Van Gogh, rather than being a self-taught genius as is sometimes thought, was a late starter who worked extremely hard to master his craft in the decade before his death at age 37.
Curators hang an 1888 self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh in which he painted himself behind a canvas, brushes and palette in hand, the final painting before the reopening after a seven-month renovation, kicking off with "Vincent At Work," an exhibition that shows Van Gogh's working methods, right down to the paints, brushes and other tools he used, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, May 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Vincent Jannink)
In many of his best-known works, he employed tools to help him render perspective correctly, with varying results.
Some displays show the progression from a sketched idea in Van Gogh's notebook to larger study to completed painting — such as the 1888 "Fishing Boats on the Beach of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer."
Among the more surprising elements on display are copies that Van Gogh made of originals by other artists in order to practice different styles and techniques. One such piece is a large color replica of a Japanese print. It closely resembles the original on which it is based, but with Van Gogh's trademark thick brush strokes.