Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers Exhibition Coming to the National Gallery in Autumn 2024

Van Gogh Starry Night

Get ready for an extraordinary art experience as the National Gallery celebrates its 200th anniversary with a major exhibition dedicated to the brilliant works of Vincent Van Gogh. “Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers” will take center stage in Autumn 2024, marking the centenary of the Gallery’s acquisition of two of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, Sunflowers and Van Gogh’s Chair.

This eagerly anticipated exhibition will be the first of its kind, focusing on Van Gogh’s imaginative transformations. With over 50 works and loans from museums and private collections worldwide, including iconic pieces from the Kröller Müller Museum in the Netherlands, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, visitors will have the opportunity to delve into the artist’s creative process and his sources of inspiration.

One of the exhibition’s primary focuses will be Van Gogh’s time in Arles and Saint-Rémy in the South of France from 1888 to 1890. Here, the artist masterfully transformed the places he encountered into idealized spaces in his art, creating a deeply resonant and poetic framework for his oeuvre. The exhibition will unveil how portraits played a vital role in Van Gogh’s artistic universe, assigning symbolic meaning to his models, such as the Poet and Lover.

“Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers” will reveal the evolution of the poetical imagination and the ideas associated with love as central themes in Van Gogh’s work. In Arles, for instance, Van Gogh envisioned the public park in front of the Yellow House, where he rented four rooms, as a Poets’ Garden, inspired by Italian Renaissance poets Petrarch and Boccaccio. Some of Van Gogh’s most glorious paintings and drawings from this period are associated with this idea, including the mesmerizing Starry Night.

During his time at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole hospital in Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh depicted the asylum’s overgrown garden as a secluded site for lovers. The exhibition will showcase these euphoric compositions, contrasting them with works from the autumn when Van Gogh associated the same location with suffering, reflecting the artist’s complex emotions during different periods of his life.

Van Gogh’s ambitions extended beyond the walls of the Yellow House in Arles. He planned to decorate it with paintings on the theme of the Poet’s Garden, the Sunflowers, and the Poet and the Lover. These paintings played a significant role in his larger decorative scheme, as he aimed to exhibit them as a cohesive group in Paris alongside works by fellow avant-garde artists. “Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers” will explore Van Gogh’s thought process behind painting in series, his use of opposites or contrasts to create harmony, and his continuous pursuit of these ideas during his time in Saint-Rémy.

In addition to loaned artworks, the exhibition will also showcase Van Gogh’s masterpieces from the National Gallery’s collection, including Wheatfield with Cypresses and Long Grass with Butterflies. These significant paintings further enhance the reassessment of Van Gogh’s career at a critical moment.

Curated by guest curator Cornelia Homburg and Christopher Riopelle, The Neil Westreich Curator of Post 1800 Paintings at the National Gallery, alongside Julien Domercq, Associate Curator (post 1800 Paintings) at the National Gallery, “Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers” promises to be an awe-inspiring journey into the artistic genius of Vincent Van Gogh.

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Kenneth C. Griffin, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Citadel, and founder of Griffin Catalyst, for their invaluable support as the exhibition’s Lead Philanthropic Supporter. Their contribution has made this remarkable event possible.

Make sure to mark your calendars for Autumn 2024 and immerse yourself in the world of Van Gogh at the National Gallery. Don’t miss out on this extraordinary opportunity to witness the imaginative transformations, poetic framework, and everlasting beauty of Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpieces.