Van Gogh: Inspired And Inspiring

Hi everyone! Another week, another exciting look into what museums are up to!

This week I wanted to take a look at a new exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It’s titled Here to Stay and features an array of amazing artworks from various artists who Vincent Van Gogh admired and who inspired him, as well as others that continue the story of art history.

I first heard about this new exhibition from a post on their Instagram page. I was immediately drawn in by their Director Emilie Gordenker’s comment about the museum’s collection, calling it a “living being” that needs to “keep growing.” By constantly adding new artworks and pieces to their collection they expand on new possibilities of interpretation, understanding, and learning. I loved this way of describing art and I think it’s so important to support this type of growth so we can continue learning about art history in deeper ways. 

The exhibition is available online and the best thing, aside from seeing all the great works that inspired Van Gogh, is the commentary and explanations of the artworks by museum employees and others. Not only do you get to know the works but you also get to read some interesting stories about how they were acquired.

While scrolling through, I was first drawn to a painting by Degas, Woman Bathing. It’s a painting I recognized and was intrigued to see how it affected Van Gogh. After seeing many of Degas’ paintings of nudes, Vincent Van Gogh became an admirer. What was even more interesting to learn was how the museum obtained this work. After extensive research on the piece they had someone bid on it for them in New York. After getting the good news that they obtained the painting, the staff, still in Amsterdam, may have been asked to leave the bar they were at for being a little too excited (but honestly who wouldn’t be!).

Edgar Degas, Woman Bathing, c.1886

Another work that completely drew me in was the Portrait of Felix Auerbach by Edvard Munch, one of the works in the collection that came after Van Gogh. This painting had a fantastic yet also sad story behind it, told by the museum’s curator, Maite van Dijk. Felix Auerbach was Jewish professor. Both he and his wife took their lives when Hitler rose to power, and so the painting was given to his niece who escaped. Her son inherited the work after she passed and it was sold to the Van Gogh Museum. The son recently visited the museum to see the painting again. It was a touching moment knowing that as he looked at the painting, his mother was pregnant with him when she last saw her uncle.

Edvard Munch, Portrait of Felix Auerbach, 1906

I find it so interesting to explore works beyond just one artist and see what actually inspired them, surrounded them, and what goes beyond their lifetime. It’s such a great way to better get to know an artist, time period, and influences.

Have a great week!

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