Van Gogh … Dreaming of Japan … in Paris … at the Pinacotheque …

Take note of this address: 8, rue de Vignon. It is in the 9th arrondissement (district) . It is the address of the extension of the private Pinacothèque museum and is officially known as Pinacothèque 2. The street runs from the right side of the Madeleine Church (L’église de la Madeleine) on Place de la […]

Van Gogh’s Country Road in Provence by Night

Take note of this address: 8, rue de Vignon. It is in the 9th arrondissement (district) . It is the address of the extension of the private Pinacothèque museum and is officially known as Pinacothèque 2.

The street runs from the right side of the Madeleine Church (L’église de la Madeleine) on Place de la Madeleine which is in the 8th arrondissement. Pinacotheque 2 is therefore on the border of the 8th and the 9th.

At the moment and until Sunday, March 17, 2013, there is a Van Gogh exhibition here: title is Van Gogh Dreaming of Japan Van Gogh rêves de Japon.

Van Gogh’s View of Ste-Maries-de-la-Mer

If you live in Paris or plan to visit it before March 17 next year, do please put a visit to this exhibition on your list of ‘must do’. It is wonderful.

The theme of the exhibition is the influence that ‘Japonism’ – Japanese art – had on Vincent van Gogh.

At the end of September in 1888 Vincent wrote from Arles to his brother Theo: “If we study Japanese art, we see a man who is undoubtedly wise, philosophic and intelligent, who spends his time how? In studying the distance between the earth and the moon? No. In studying the policy of Bismarck?  No. He studied a single blade of grass.

“But this blade of grass leads him to draw every plant and then the seasons, the wide aspects of the countryside, then animals, then the human figure. She he passes his life, and life is too short to do the whole …

“And you cannot study Japanese art, it seems to me, without becoming much gayer and happier, and we must return to nature in spite of our education and our work in a world of convention.”

(I’ve taken the above from The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, edited and introduced by Mark Roskill, published in 1963 by Fontana Library of William Collins Sons, London.)

This exhibition focuses on the etchings of Utagawa Hiroshige ( 1797-1858). On display are prints on paper of Hiroshige’s work beside the Van Gogh paintings it had influenced. The Van Gogh paintings are on loan from the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands, which has one of the world’s largest collections of Van Gogh paintings.

(If you want to see Hiroshige’s work, these, on loan from the Museum of Leiden,  are exhibited in Pinacothèque 1, the main building on Place de la Madeleine.)

Hiroshige’s Group of Pilgrims which had influenced Van Gogh. See the likeness?

You will not see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers or his Irises, as this exhibition is of his landscapes influenced by Hiroshige.

You will see: The Sower; Country Road in Province by Night; Orchard Bordered by Cypresses; View of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, and about another 35 of Van Gogh’s paintings.

Also from Arles in 1888 Vincent wrote to Theo that he was impressed with “the extreme clearness” of Japonism; he described it be as “simple as breathing”.

I’ve taken the above from The Life of Vincent van Gogh – Stranger on the Earth by Albert J. Lublin published in 1972 by Paladin of Granada Publishing Limited of Great Britain.)

I, who have not only loved Van Gogh’s work since I was no higher than three apples – pas plus haut que trios pommes, as the French say – but felt such sympathy for the man, will end with this, also from a letter to Theo: “What am I in the eyes of most people? A nobody, or an eccentric and disagreeable man – somebody who has no position in society and never will have, in short, the lowest of the low.Very well, if that were true, then I should want to show by my work what there is in the heart of such an eccentric man, of such a nobody.”

Vincent, how wrong you were: I saw the admiration in the eyes of those who last Friday stood in front of your paintings.

You will reach the museum on the Metro lines 8, 12 and 14, exit station Madeleine on Place de la Madeleine.

Van Gogh’s The Sower

A single ticket for Van Gogh is €10.nA twinned Van Gogh-Hiroshige + the museum’s permanent collections comes to €22.

Van Gogh’s Poplar Trees at Sunset

Know that all the descriptive notes in this museum are in French only. But you can buy the Van Gogh Dreaming of Japan booklet for €4.50 before you go in. I also could not find an English edition of the catalogue that costs €9.90. Therefore, if I can give this museum advice it will be: think of those visitors who do not know French as does the Louvre, Orsay etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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