While the Metropolitan Museum of Art is well-known for its constantly rotating series of special exhibitions, this summer sees a new focus on the museum’s permanent collection. For the first time in over a decade, the Met has united its collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh under one roof, where they will stay for the next six months. Typically scattered across the globe on loans to various museum, the Met’s seventeen paintings by the artist is the largest such collection in North and South America.
Vincent Van Gogh, Installation view, via Art Observed.
The majority of the collection can be found in two rooms in the Met’s 19th century European Art galleries, competing for (and winning) the attention of visitors against neighboring works by artists such as Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, and Èdouard Manet. One painting, “Madame Roulin and Her Baby” (1888), is separated from the others in the Robert Lehman collection.
The collection is impressive not only for its breadth but also for its depth; the seventeen canvases encompass the six busiest years of Van Gogh’s short career and feature landscapes, still lifes, and portraits in the variety of styles, from Pointillism to Neo-Impressionism, that he encountered during his peripatetic life. The museum’s choice to display the collection on two walls in two neighboring rooms allows visitors to examine these canvases and their disparate styles as individual works but also to stand back and regard the paintings as a full collection.