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Vincent van Gogh

Between Earth and Heaven: The Landscapes

HAUPTBAU / 26.04.–27.09.2009 / Curators: Bernhard Mendes Bürgi, Nina Zimmer

In a spectacular, comprehensive exhibition taking place from April to September 2009, the Kunstmuseum Basel is staging the first showing worldwide of the landscape paintings by the legendary artist Vincent van Gogh. Seventy paintings – both world-famous key works as well as paintings barely seen previously by the general public – will give a completely new insight into van Gogh’s body of work. In addition, forty masterpieces by contemporaries, from Kunsmuseum Basel’s world-famous collection, will place van Gogh’s groundbreaking approach to nature in a broader context. A multimedia introduction to the life and work of van Gogh will open up the exhibition to the general public. This makes the exhibition the most important European art event in 2009.

The environs where Van Gogh lived affected him and his art profoundly. For the first time in the world, a survey of his landscape paintings is being presented at the Kunstmuseum Basel. On the basis of seventy masterpieces from major museums and private collections in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, the cosmos of his pioneering art will be on view.

By concentrating on the landscape paintings, we learn to understand and experience Vincent van Gogh in a completely new light. In his encounter with nature he found his way, step by step, to his own artistic language and, in doing so, to a radically new freedom in painting.

Thus we can see directly for ourselves how the earthy hues of the early Dutch works made way in Paris to a lighter and color-flushed style of painting. Then in the south of France, Van Gogh arrived at the intensely luminous coloring and vitalizing expression that, still today, make his paintings so fascinating.

During every phase of his brief productive life in Arles, as well as during his stay at the sanatorium of Saint-Rémy and finally in Auvers, he celebrated in his paintings the glory of creation. With themes such as the sower, flowering fruit trees, the wheat harvest or the reaper, he reaffirmed the eternal cycle of nature’s renewable forces.

While painting outdoors in natural surroundings, the restless Van Gogh found his own voice and achieved a harmony and equilibrium that was otherwise so often denied to this difficult solitary. The exhibition will present an impressive panorama of Van Gogh’s world: village or river views, garden or park scenery, farmland or land already under industrial use.

Presenting Sponsor: UBS AG