Sunday, December 6, 2009
Van Gogh collection arrives for major exhibition at National Museum of History in Taipei
By Nancy T. Lu
Vincent Van Gogh, an artist whose fame is of mythical proportion, will invite animated discussion with the arrival in Taipei of a fabulous collection, requiring an insurance coverage of NT$25 billion.
“The National Museum of History closed down for at least two months to prepare for this major exhibition,” revealed Huang Yung-chuan, the museum’s director, on Saturday when Van Gogh’s “Country Road in Provence By Night” was unveiled in the presence of the press and media in Taipei.
“Tests on the security system, fire prevention drills, room temperature checks, as well as going over the lighting and the sound systems had to be carefully carried out to reinforce the reputation of our museum as one with world-class features and provisions,” Huang added.
“The Flaming Soul – Van Gogh,” the much-awaited exhibition highlighting nearly a hundred works by the master of impressionist art, will open at the National Museum of History on Nanhai Road in Taipei on December 11. The collection showing Van Gogh trying to master art techniques will be on view until March 28 next year.
The Kroller-Mueller Museum in Holland has lent 20 oil paintings (said to represent about a quarter of its entire collection of Van Gogh oil masterpieces), 18 sketches done with charcoal pencil and 59 watercolors or works in pastel while the Pola Museum of Art in Japan has loaned a painting done just one month before Van Gogh’s death titled “Flower Vase with Thistle” (1890).
Evert Van Straaten, the visiting director of the Kroller-Mueller Museum, said on Saturday: “We don’t lend out such a big exhibition very often for we have obligations to the visitors at our museum. We do it only in winter. The drawings, in particular, are very fragile and sensitive to light.”
The Dutch museum renowned for its Van Gogh collection published a catalogue and decided to lend the exhibition to only two other cities: Brescia in Italy and Taipei in Taiwan, said Van Straaten. Regarding the choice of Taipei, he said: “We have known how much the people in Taiwan love Van Gogh.”
"Self-Portrait”(1887),“Country Road in Provence By Night” (1890) and “Cypresses With Two Figures” (1889) are some of Van Gogh’s major works in the exhibition. “Angelus” (after Jean Francois Millet) and “The Good Samaritan” (after Eugene Delacroix) are also in the show.
Van Straaten described “Country Road in Provence By Night” as “an icon for the cosmic vision of Van Gogh.” He elaborated: “This painting shows his idea about nature and man as part of the universe. People feel this when they see the painting and that is part of the magic of this painting.”
Eighteen years after the death of Van Gogh in 1890, Helen Kroller-Mueller went around buying his paintings in 1908. She, however, did not succeed in getting hold of works which were the direct legacy of Van Gogh. All the paintings Van Gogh had at the time of his death went to the wife of his brother Theo. The artist’s idea was to keep as many of the paintings within the family.
Kroller-Mueller traveled extensively to find the works Van Gogh gave to his artist friends or exchanged with them. With Van Gogh’s star rising, these artists were prepared to sell them.
Only one of the bought paintings in the museum has an original Dutch frame. Van Gogh never framed his works. Kroller-Mueller ordered the reconstruction of the simple frame from an architect in 1910 or nearly a hundred years ago, according to Van Straaten.