Summer, winter, autumn, spring – Van Gogh had it covered.
His amazing artwork reflects the four seasons and is closely linked to the circle of life – birth, bloom, maturity and death.
The new Melbourne exhibition explores Van Gogh’s profound connection to the seasons of nature through nearly 50 paintings and drawings. For the artist, this ongoing cycle embodied the greatness of nature and the existence of a higher force.
Van Gogh repeatedly painted scenes that evoked the sensory pleasures or deprivations particular to each season – spring-time, with its blossoming orchards and flowering meadows; summer, with fields of ripe wheat shimmering under the hot sun; autumn, with bountiful harvests and solitary figures sowing seeds as dusk approaches; and winter, with peasants digging potatoes out of frozen fields, or sharing a meagre meal by candlelight.
Van Gogh and the Seasons features key works lent by leading international museums, including the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, which hold the two largest collections of works by Van Gogh in the world.
Van Gogh and the Seasons is presented within sections devoted to each of the four seasons.
The artworks depict places that were the setting for many defining moments in the artist’s tumultuous life – the Dutch region.
Rabant, where Van Gogh was born in 1853 and lived for much of his early life; Arles, where the artist experienced his most defining period of creativity; Saint-Rémy de Provence, where he was treated for mental illness in the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum; and Auvers-sur-Oise, where he committed suicide in 1890 at the age of 37.
The exhibition invites viewers to contemplate Van Gogh’s life and experiences through his observations of the seasonal changes within the natural world.
Drawing extensively from Van Gogh’s letters and from research into his deep interest in literature and nature, Van Gogh and the Seasons explores the influences and themes that dominate much of this visionary artist’s work.
Alongside Van Gogh artworks, additional material is presented including works from Van Gogh’s own art collection, providing fascinating context and showing ‘the seasons’ as a subject of perennial interest to artists of many different cultures and eras.
The exhibition opens with a major film installation that is structured into four vignettes, one for each season, with each episode exploring an aspect of the life and work of Van Gogh.
David Stratton Narration
Narrated by cinephile David Stratton and featuring dialogue from Van Gogh’s letters read by awardwinning actor David Wenham, the film includes extraordinary footage of nature collected by NGV filmmakers.
Melbourne Winter Masterpieces 2017.
Van Gogh and the Seasons at National Gallery of Victoria until July 9 2017.
Tickets – NGV.Melbourne Adult $28 / Concession $24.50 / Child $10 / Family (2 adults, 3 children) $65