Here’s looking at you, Vincent

There’s a new Van Gogh exhibition in London.

Van Gogh. Self-PortraitsThe Courtauld
Van Gogh. Self-Portraits takes as its springboard Van Gogh’s iconic Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, one of the most celebrated works in The Courtauld’s collection, and will bring together around half of the self-portraits Van Gogh created during his short years as a painter. This will be the first time that the full span of Van Gogh’s self-portraiture has been explored in an exhibition. Several works in the exhibition were last together in Van Gogh’s studio and have never been reunited, until now.

I very much like the sound of it. It’s great to see one of my favourite portraits of his is included.

Van Gogh Self-Portraits at the Courtauld Gallery review: beg, borrow or steal, you have to see thisEvening Standard
It would be easy to phone-in a Van Gogh self-portraits show, but the Courtauld’s is rigorous and thoughtful, with smart pairings and groupings. And it has a compelling argument: that we inevitably see the artist’s paintings of himself through the prism of his mental health and suicide, but they should instead be seen as him pursuing a unique artistic language despite rather than because of his illness. Yes, they were vehicles for expression, but it was a more rational pursuit rather than one governed only by torment.

‘Magical, mysterious and electrifyingly intimate’ – Van Gogh: Self-Portraits reviewThe Guardian
One of the star attractions in the collection of the Courtauld Gallery in London is Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, which was painted in January 1889. The artist had mutilated his left ear two days before Christmas, following a quarrel with Paul Gauguin, with whom he had been sharing a house in Arles. Van Gogh looks pale and introspective, clean-shaven, dressed for the winter chill in his yellow room, an easel behind him and a Japanese print on the wall (the Courtauld owns this print, too, but it was stolen in the 1980s and never recovered). The Dutch artist has the hunted look of a man not yet ready to re-enter the world, except through his painting. The open blue door on the right is the same blue door that appears in the picture of his straw-bottomed yellow chair, which now hangs in the same room at the Courtauld. You can take the chair as a kind of self-portrait, too. It is as if he has stepped out for a second, leaving his pipe and tobacco pouch on the seat.

A trip down to the capital is in order, I think. And whilst we’re there, we might visit this other Van Gogh exhibition. It takes a very different approach, similar to that one in Paris.

Van Gogh Exhibition: The Immersive Experience – London
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is a 20,000 square foot light and sound spectacular featuring two-story projections of the artist’s most compelling works. Encounter the brilliance of one of history’s greatest artists in 360 degrees.

Your first look at the eye-popping, immersive Van Gogh exhibitionTime Out
As you can see from the photos, Van Gogh’s paintings are beamed hyper-sharp all over the floors and walls, using dozens of cutting-edge projectors. The all-encompassing sight of iconic works like Starry Night and Wheatfield with Crows (complete with flying birds, natch) knock a lot of socks off (particularly when augmented and combined with VR headsets).

Author: Terry Madeley

Works with student data and enjoys reading about art, data, education and technology.

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