This summer the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles will hold its third retrospective devoted to the famous Dutch artist who lived in Arles in 1888-89.
Opening on Saturday, Van Gogh in Provence: Modernizing Tradition is considered an exceptionally important show with regards to both the number of paintings and to their "dialogue" within the exhibition space, which has been redesigned specially for the occasion. Thirty-one original works by Van Gogh will, the museum says, "allow us to comprehend how deeply his painting is anchored in the traditional genres to which he never ceased to lend new expression."
Selected by curator Sjraar van Heugten, one of the world’s foremost Van Gogh experts, the 31 paintings offer a panorama of seven years of intense activity, culminating in the artist’s time in Provence, during which he produced some 500 works. This is a major show for the city and it's expected to be a huge success.
Van Gogh is a huge presence in Provence but few of his paintings actually stay here in permanent museum collections. (At present I know of just one, in Avignon.) The Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, which opened in 2014, was created to underscore and celebrate the inseparable link between Van Gogh's work and the city of Arles, by showing his paintings alongside the work of contemporary artists. (My story about the creation of the museum and the people behind it is here.)
The Fondation Van Gogh is located at the Hôtel Léautaud de Donines, a 15th-century building elegantly restored by Guilaume Avenard and Hervé Scheider of the architectural firm Fluor, who said that the light of Arles was their “guiding thread.” It's located in the heart of the city's historic center, a setting classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Fondation has more than 1000 square meters of exhibit space spread over two floors.
The museum is currently closed while the new exhibit is being installed. Van Gogh in Provence: Modernizing Tradition opens Saturday May 14 at 11 am and runs until Sunday September 11, 2016. Hours will be 11 am to 7 pm, seven days a week; last entry is 6 pm. All the info is on the website here and on the press release, which you can read in English here.
Photos: (1) The entrance to the Fondation Van Gogh, which opened in the heart of Arles in 2014. Not visible in the photo is the 15th-century building that houses the exhibit spaces. (2 - 6) From the show: Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat (1887), Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1888), Still Life with Absinthe (1887), Field with Irises near Arles (1888) and An Old Woman of Arles (1888). (7) Front of the Fondation, gates closed.