Donnerstag, 27.01.2022 15:05 Uhr

The Potato Eaters: Mistake or Masterpiece?

Verantwortlicher Autor: PAOLA TESTONI Amsterdam, 25.10.2021, 21:08 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Paola Testoni de Beaufort Bericht 26228x gelesen
Vincent van Gogh, 'The Potato Eaters' 1885, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent v
Vincent van Gogh, 'The Potato Eaters' 1885, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent v  Bild: Van Gogh Foundation

Amsterdam [ENA] 'The Potato Eaters: Mistake or Masterpiece?' the exhibition of the 2021-22 season (closing date February 13) at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam leads us to rethink the story of one of Vincent Van Gogh's (1853-1890) most important paintings, and certainly what he himself throughout his life

considered his greatest masterpiece. So what is the meaning of this question? Certainly the answer must be sought in the historical circumstances that preceded and followed the creation of 'The Potato Eaters' painted in Nuenen, in the Brabant region of the Netherlands in 1885. This realistic and empathetic vision with which the painter looks at the poorest has its roots in the years before when Vincent, before embarking on his artistic career, went to evangelize in the Belgian mining region of Borinage. A choice perhaps dictated by the idea of following in the footsteps of his father, a Protestant pastor, but certainly lived in sincerity of mind. Especially because he did not limit himself to helping the poor but lived among them sharing

their daily life. This painting was very important for Van Gogh who considered it the pass partout to enter the Parisian artistic world, obtaining critical and market success. Unfortunately this did not happen and the opera had a cold reception and unfortunately his brother Theo and the painter Anthon Rappart Vincent's mentor disliked it too, which was the main cause of the rupture of their friendship. NUENEN 1883 Vincent's return to his family in Nuenen also coincided with the preparation of the work. He wanted to be extremely thorough and prepared it by making many sketches and portraits of peasants, after which he moved on to larger compositions, studying the effect of light and complementary colours ('I must paint fifty heads just to

Vincent van Gogh, 'Study for 'The Potato Eaters'' 1885 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Vincent van Gogh, 'Head of a Woman' 1885, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent v
Vincent van Gogh, 'The Cottage' 1885Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh F

create a work very different from those of his contemporaries. In fact, if the theme was very much in vogue at the time and the preparation rather classical, the style of the painting is very different from that of his contemporaries such as Millet and Jozef Israels who idealized the peasant life in romantic paintings. Unlike van Gogh Vincent in fact brings to the extreme the poetics of Realism, abandoning any sentimental value and trying to express the social data in a merciless way, even exasperating the expressiveness of the faces. A style that unfortunately will not please his contemporaries but that will leave the author always convinced of the value of the work and it is no coincidence that a few years later, hospitalized in the

psychiatric hospital of Saint-Remy-de-Provence, Vincent still considered the idea of painting a new version of 'The Potato Eaters' and in the spring of 1890, thinking back of Brabant, began to make sketches peasant meals. After having admired many works, sketches, and letters, the visitor can go up to the second floor of the museum where the special bond that Van Gogh had for Brabant is told and along with the 3D reconstruction of the hut of 'The Potato Eaters' accessible to the public is also presented the interesting relationship Van Gogh had with Brabant that unfolds between 39 monuments, three places of cultural heritage and the collection of the Museum of Noord Brabant in 's Hertogenbosch. It will therefore be interesting to venture

among the places of the painter's childhood in Zundert, to see the beginning of his career in Etten and understand where he took drawing lessons in Tilburg up to visit the Vincentre of Nuenen and its surroundings where countless places have witnessed the work and life of Vincent. Interesting is also the initiative that will take place in Nuenen between 6 and 13 November to celebrate The Potato Eaters on the same spot where the painting was created, together with light festival GLOW Eindhoven. Giant illuminated sunflowers have been installed in reference to Vincent's research into light and color that led to his masterpiece. The artwork Sunflowers for Vincent, the audience favorite during GLOW 2019, is returning to Nuenen for this tribute.

This event also marks the start of work on a new Vincentre Museum expansion. 2023 will see the opening of Vincent's LightLab, an interactive experience about the phenomenon of light based on Vincent van Gogh's works. For info and tickets www.vangoghmuseum.nl For more info on Van Gogh in Brabant www.hetnoordbrabantsmuseum.nl www.vangoghbrabant.com www.visitbrabant.com

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