The Van Gogh Museum has re-opened , having been completely refurbished and hosting a completely fresh take on Vincent van Gogh’s life, art and personality.
This entirely new presentation of the fabled artist’s works is already hyped by the media, both domestically and abroad. The inaugural exhibition will draw particular attention to Van Gogh’s impact on European artists of his generation and attempts to give a fair insight in his mental illness, the ear slashing incident and his tragic end.
The show will include paintings, drawings and Van Gogh’s endless letters, which are to be displayed on all the floors of the museum.
Coinciding with the revamp, the museum also launches the sale of what are called ‘relievos’, high quality 3D print outs of Van Gogh paintings which will probably become rather popular, as Van Gogh’s works are known for their characteristic thick layers of paint which – as you might imagine – are very suitable for 3D printing.
Every section in the new layout of the huge museum devotes attention to one crucial work that best represents Van Gogh’s artistic ambitions at that particular time in his life, the curators promise. What’s more, the accompanying texts alongside the paintings and drawings are almost entirely Van Gogh’s very own words, which means that visitors have the chance to enter the world of the artist almost for real.
Van Gogh was influenced by the likes of Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin was staying with him when he cut off the tip of his ear. The new exhibition also display works by these and other artists. When Van Gogh first started painting, his colours were gloomy and dark (think of the potato eaters for instance), but when he moved away from the Netherlands to the South of France, he seems to have discovered vibrant shades and it was here that he painted some of his best works.
The Van Gogh museum is also launching a pilot experiment outsourcing its staff for consultancy assignments to external parties, in what appears to be a commercial construction. The staffers will advise other museums, companies and private individuals about art issues much like consultants, in a move is causing some commotion in the Dutch art and museum sectors.
“The museum world revolves entirely around favours. When we help out a collector, we can approach them later for a loan. From time to time we are given works as a thank you. […] If we would all start asking for money for our expertise and services, we would ruin that,” says Benno Tempel, the director of Haags Gemeentemuseum, in a comment to De Volkskrant.
That said, the Van Gogh experts are already much in demand, with requests coming in from all over the world about running museums, climate control of artwork display rooms, art restoration, education and management.
If the legacy of Rembrandt is anything to go by, copping out to commercialism is a game that needs to be played with utter care; the scholarly investigations by Dutch experts into the life of this master painter were terminated in 2011 due to a lack of funding, but have since re-started with American aid, and likely expertise. Even though that might not jeopardize the quality of the research – which is rather expensive – it still leaves a national treasure vulnerable.
But to return to Van Gogh, he drew about 1,100 drawings in his lifetime, which are a living testimony to his incredible drawing skills and many of which will be on show.
A good deal more of both his drawings and paintings (some of his very best) are in possession of the Kruller Muller museum in the forests surrounding Arnhem, which is well worth a day trip if you get the chance.