Go See – London: ‘The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters’ at the Royal Academy through April 18th 2010

February 25th, 2010

Self-Portait as an Artist
(1888), by Vincent Van Gogh, via The Royal Academy of Arts

Currently on view at the Royal Academy of Art is a major exhibition of the work of Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1893) and his incredible written correspondence. The show exhibits 35 original letters which have rarely been exhibited to the public due alongside 65 paintings and 30 drawings. The grouping of such works in different artistic disciplines reveals how closely the artist’s writing was interlocked with his painting.

Still-Life with a Plate of Onions (1889
) by Vincent Van Gogh, via The Royal Academy of Art

More images, text and related links after the jump…

The Yellow House (The Street) (1888), by Vincent Van Gogh, via The Royal Academy of Art

The exhibition uses the artist’s letters as a starting point. He often used his letters as “written sketches” in order to signal a work in progress or a completed work. The majority of the artist’s letters were written to his brother Theo, an art dealer who supported Van Gogh through his artistic career. He also wrote letters to family members and other artists such as Anton van Rappard, Emile Bernard, and Paul Gauguin.

Vincent Van Gogh, Letter 783 from Vincent Van Gogh to Theo Van Gogh, Cypresses, 25 June 1889, via The Royal Academy of Art

The exhibition also incorporates the latest edition of the artist’s correspondence: Vincent Van Gogh-The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition. This new edition is the result of years of scholarship by Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker of the Van Gogh Museum.

(1889) by Vincent Van Gogh, via The Royal Academy of Art

Vincent Van Gogh was born in the South of the Netherlands in 1853 and was the second of six children by a Protestant pastor. During his early years, the artist worked for a firm of art dealers in the Hague and in London before he became a missionary worker. His artistic career began when he was 27 years old and spanned only ten years until his suicide in 1890. Mostly self-taught, he produced more than 800 paintings and 1,200 drawings during his short career. He compulsively wrote eloquent letters expressing his hard-working and exceptionally sensitive and intellectual nature.

The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters [Royal Academy of Arts]
Van Gogh at the Royal Academy: Illuminating and Shocking [The Guardian]
The Real Van Gogh at the Royal Academy
[Times Online]
Royal Academy’s Van Gogh show is a real record-breaker [London Evening Standard]
Vincent Van Gogh’s Letter’s Go Digital
[LA Times]
Van Gogh’s letters shed light on his work [Financial Times]
Royal Academy to Showcase Van Gogh’s Private Side [The Independent]