Painter Vincent van Gogh died more than 130 years ago — but his work still captures the imagination of people all over the world.
Soon, many will focus their attention on Minnesota, where a collection of van Gogh’s art will be on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
“It is a big deal, and it is exciting stuff,” declares Alex Bortolot, the institute’s content strategist. “Rarely, if ever you have five, actually six works by van Gogh on this series ‘Olive Groves,’ all in one place at one time.”
The exhibition will be a homecoming for the museum’s own ‘Olive Trees.’
That painting has been loaned out since October of 2021 to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the Dallas Museum of Art.
“I think it’s wonderful,” exclaims Amy Kulseth, a contemporary painter from Blaine. “It’s going to be great to see a Van Gogh painting in person. You see all these paintings online and you don’t get a good sense of the composition, the layers, the brush strokes.”
“He was clearly fascinated by how the appearance of these subjects,” Bortolot adds. “Olive groves in the south of France changed in terms of form and color literally hour by hour.”
But this will be no solo act.
The institute is also acquiring — on loan from those museums in Amsterdam and Dallas — five other Van Gogh paintings from his time in the south of France in mid-to-late-1889.
“Normally, you’d have to hop a plane and go to two different continents to see those works, so to have them all together is really special,” Bortolot notes. “Probably a once in a lifetime event.”
The exhibition, called ‘Van Gogh and the Olive Groves,’ will also include rough sketches.
It will be specially located in a set-up gallery.
Experts say Van Gogh is still a huge draw more than a century after his death.
The paintings will be displayed near other artists of the period, such as Gaugin, Monet, and Degas.
Kulseth says Van Gogh is really special.
“His colors that he uses are beautiful,” she says. “The complimentary colors he uses are really some of the most admirable things for me about him, seeing how he uses his color dele.”
Bortolot says that Van Gogh suffered with mental illness.
He believes the continued appeal of his works is partly tied to our own stressful times.
“As a human being, he’s an immensely appealing person, who like many of us has had hard times,” Bortolot notes. “But he had this strong creative drive that produced these beautiful artworks.”
Records show Van Gogh was very prolific during his lifetime.
Between the age of 27, until his death at 37, Van Gogh produced more than 900 paintings and more than 1,100 drawings.
Some of those artworks are worth millions.
“He’s an incredibly talented painter. His paintings are beautiful,” Bortolot explains. “And yet, he was largely unrecognized in life. He did not get credit in his day when he was alive, but he’s rocketed to be this art world celebrity and beyond today.”
He also says researchers are finding that Van Gogh was much more methodical in his painting technique, not rushing to get an image on a canvas.
However, Bortolot also says he would sometimes put finished paintings outside in the sun, to speed up the drying process.
“New photography actually reveals his fingerprints on some of these paintings,” he says. “So he was handling these paintings while the paint had yet hardened. We have microphotography showing the ridges of his fingerprints on the canvases themselves.”
Kulseth says her own work has been influenced by Van Gogh — that, and learning about his troubled life.
An incredible talent, not fully recognized during his lifetime.
“I think his escape was art,” Kulseth says. “That’s one way he dealt with things, but watching his art evolve and change was really — I think it was super interesting.”
Tickets for ‘Van Gogh and the Olive Groves’ will go on sale to the public June 13.
They’re already on presale to the museum’s contributing members.
The exhibition opens June 25 and runs through Sept. 18.
You can find out more about the exhibition here.