National Gallery of Canada opens Van Gogh: Up Close exhibition

The National Gallery of Canada presents Van Gogh: Up Close exhibition, an exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Philadelphia Museum of Art on view from May 25 to September 3, 2012. Visitors will be able to enjoy 47 paintings from public and private collections around the world that explore the Dutch artist’s fascination with and his representation of nature during his French period (1886-1890).

Vincent van Gogh, Iris, 1889. Oil on thinned cardboard, mounted on canvas, 62.2 x 48.3 cm. National Gallery of Canada. Photo © NGC

For the first time, Van Gogh: Up Close brings together a group of close-up views – still lifes and landscapes – in which the artist experimented with bold visual angles, decorative colour, daring cropping and flattened perspective. Van Gogh’s paintings that hone in on a budding iris, a patch of grass or a ripened wheat field are among the most groundbreaking and radical compositions in the artist’s oeuvre. Often thought of as an intense and impassioned painter, the works in this exhibition reveal a deliberate, purposeful approach to his art making that defies common perception; they also highlight Van Gogh’s grasp and knowledge of a wide range of visual sources.

Alongside the works by Van Gogh, the show features three galleries with Japanese prints, 19th century photographs and a selection of works on paper from Old Masters to contemporary artists that contextualize the artist’s experiments on canvas. In all, more than 100 works inspired by nature.

Van Gogh’s use of the close-up view had a very specific function in the artist’s oeuvre. As with his ambitions in the genre of portraiture, for example, he strove to create a body of work with which to wow his contemporaries and make a lasting contribution to the art of his time.

“Van Gogh is on the shortest list of the world’s most famous artists. Both he and his work have been studied by serious scholars from all over the world for more than 120 years. Yet as with any great painter, there is something new to discover about his work, and this is is exactly what the curators behind this exhibition have done,” said NGC director Marc Mayer. “Five years in the making, this exhibition will be remembered for generations.”

“Van Gogh’s work had a profound influence over the art of the 20th century,” said Dean Connor, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sun Life Financial. “This exhibition gives us the privilege to experience the legacy of a genius. Sun Life commends the National Gallery of Canada for co-organizing Van Gogh: Up Close with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and in doing so, enriching us all.”

To find out more about the exhibition, visit

National Gallery of Canada 380 Sussex Drive,
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1N 9N4

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