Sunday, November 06, 2022

At the Detroit Institute of Arts

Van Gogh in America

Waiting in line for the fabulous Van Gogh Exhibit at
the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Huge murals of famous Van Gogh paintings are shown on the way into the exhibit.
Attendance on Saturday was at capacity, but the crowds were controlled by timed admissions.

The selection of paintings and drawings was superb.

We were thrilled by the extensive assembly of works by Van Gogh in “Van Gogh in America.” According to the organizers: 

“Van Gogh in America is the first exhibition dedicated to the introduction and early reception of Vincent van Gogh’s art in the United States. The exhibition displays 78 works by Van Gogh, illustrating the efforts made by early promoters of his art—including the artist’s family—in America”

The DIA was the first American Museum to acquire a Van Gogh painting for its collection: exactly 100 years ago. In 1922, the city of Detroit purchased a self-portrait that he had painted in 1887. By this time, Van Gogh was widely appreciated in Europe, and his works were highly valued. However, the American art establishment was very slow to appreciate his incredible genius. 

The exhibit documents how a few black-and-white newspaper articles and then the 1913 Armory Show in New York displayed some of his paintings, which didn’t find purchasers. A later exhibit, organized by Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and others also featured Van Gogh paintings. Several of the works from this show by other artists such as Frank Stella and Paul Cézanne were in the DIA exhibit in addition to the Van Goghs,

The history of how the American museum-going public came to love Van Gogh and how other museums and other exhibits made his work more widely available was the main subject of the exhibit. The placards on the walls and other documentation also show how the legend of Van Gogh’s supposedly tormented life took over the public imagination, despite evidence that he was a thoughtful and painstaking draftsman and artist. This unusual approach to art history makes this exhibit different from most art exhibits I have seen, and I found it wonderful and fascinating.

Other Famous Works in the DIA Collection

We love going to the DIA, and were delighted to return after three years, as the pandemic has kept us away. Here are two works that we saw today, among those that we have enjoyed returning to over and over. The museum is less than an hour’s drive from our home, so we have frequented its galleries throughout the time we have lived here.

Diego Rivera’s interpretations of Detroit Industry are among his most impressive murals.

The DIA also has a remarkable collection of puppets from the early 20th century.
This is a puppet of Cleopatra by Martin T. Stevens and Olga Stevens.
Only a few puppets are displayed at any one time, so Cleopatra was new to me.

Review © 2022 mae sander.



Trin Carl said...

I've really wanted to see some of these exhibits. Recently I noticed an exhbit in a k-Drama and I thought it was a great idea for that particular movie and think we will see plenty of these art exhibit opportunities by directors in movies in the future.

Yvonne said...

That exhibit looks amazing. I'd love to see that. Thank you for posting about it.

kwarkito said...

J'aime beaucoup cet impressionnant Mural de Diego Riveira, dont l'œuvre n'est pas si connue que ça en France. Il est vraiment très beau et restitue très bien l'impression de mouvement et d'activité frénétique (kwarkito)

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

What an amazing exhibition. That puppet was instantly recognisable as Cleopatra. I sincerely hope no climate activists damage any of the Van Gogh paintings as has been done in Europe.

Iris Flavia said...

Wonderful works. I fear I would not be able to just browse through...

Bertiebo said...

It's different to see the work in real life, isn't it? Different and often better. I also love the other artwork. Watched it for a long time

Sami said...

That would have been a great exhibition. We had an interactive Monet exhibition here in Perth a few months ago, but the tickets were extremely expensive and I didn't go.
That Diego Rivera painting is fabulous, so much to see! And I love the Cleopatra puppet, very well done.
Quite a beautiful mural , love the rainbow :) Thanks for participating in Monday Murals Mae.

eileeninmd said...

What a great exhibit! The puppet is amazing!
Take care, enjoy your day!

Jenn Jilks said...

Isn't that wonderful!

Jeanie said...

I Love the DIA's puppet collection, but then I'm a sucker for puppets even on a bad day (why else would I have one on top of my Christmas tree?) Kate and I are going to the VanGogh, probably next month. I'm really looking forward to it!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I'm so glad that you are finally able to return to this museum. I look forward to going back to some of my favorite museums in Houston soon.

Linda said...

You can’t go wrong with van Gogh. And I really like that Cleopatra.