Van Gogh in America: You Should Gogh to Detroit

Van Gogh has arrived – in Detroit. “Van Gogh in America” showcases some of the artist’s most beautiful and significant works.

You won’t want to miss this exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts which runs through January 22.

Masterpieces include Van Gogh’s Chair, self-portraits, The Bedroom, and Starry Night over the Rhône.

Van Gogh has always been one of our family’s favorite artists. All of those colors! And the movement captured in the brush strokes and impasto make Van Gogh’s work unique. So when my cousin asked if I’d like to go, I jumped at the chance.

Starry Night, 1888

I’d never been to Detroit. When we took the exit off of Interstate 90, I was immediately reminded of South Chicago.

The museum is a gem that sits in the cultural district of midtown Detroit. Its exterior is marble and remarkable in itself. Established in 1883, this museum knows what it is doing, and it does it well.

The Van Gogh exhibition takes you through nine rooms organized to explain how and when Van Gogh became famous. You get an audio tour included in the ticket price, as well as a wonderful booklet filled with information and photographs of Van Gogh’s work.

The Bedroom, 1889

One of the first things you’ll learn is that Van Gogh wasn’t very popular in the United States when his work was first introduced.

Although impressionism was appreciated by American collectors, Van Gogh’s post-impressionist style didn’t quite fit the mold. At the first U.S. exhibition of his work in 1913 not one of his paintings sold.

A later exhibit at New York’s Montross Gallery in1920 resulted in three sales – all to one Theodore Pitcairn, a minister from a suburb of Philadelphia.

The Detroit Institute of Arts actually was the first U.S. museum to purchase one of his works in 1922. That painting is “Self-Portrait,” 1887.

Self-Portrait, 1887

I was surprised at how extensive the show is, and how well-oiled the procedures are at the museum. You have ample time and space to view everything for as long as you like.

The Olive Trees, 1889

Check Your Bag

In response to recent climate activists damaging historical artworks, people attending this exhibit are only permitted to carry small handbags. The museum will check larger bags and coats, however.

Another plus is the on site restaurant and cafe. I was craving a tuna fish sandwich and thought I’d give it a shot. It was actually really good! You never know with cafeteria style places. It was a pleasant surprise.

There is a gift shop upon exiting the show, and it has lots of merch to check out. Surprisingly, I really didn’t see anything I had to have. I think it was because the guide booklet had so much information and photos of Van Gogh’s works.

So if you are looking to get away for a beautiful art show and venue, check out Van Gogh in America.

Tickets are available online via the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Fishing Boats on the Beach at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 1888.

Post-script: A Little Drama

One of the paintings in the show is allegedly stolen!

The painting in question is “The Novel Reader.”

According to a lawsuit filed this month, the plaintiff/owner of the painting gave possession of the work to the defendant, who absconded with the painting.

A judge has temporarily ruled that the Institute may not move or return the painting to the lender until a hearing on the ownership of the work can occur.

The Novel Reader, 1888

Luckily, you can still see this painting in the exhibit through January 22, 2023.

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