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Vincent Van Gogh

Updated on December 14, 2014
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh | Source

Van Gogh Up Close Was A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity For Ottawa and Ontario Residents

Like many people around the world, I have long been somewhat familiar with Vincent Van Gogh. He's the artist who couldn't sell a painting while he was alive and who cut off part of his own ear, isn't he?

If you are not aware of those bits of gossip, you most likely know that his works of art can be seen on merchandise everywhere you go. His paintings have long been reproduced and appear on almost anything you can imagine. From calendars and coffee mugs to umbrellas and t-shirts, the list is endless.

It wasn't until we visited Amsterdam in 2009 and the Van Gogh Museum that I decided I really liked some of Vincent Van Gogh's artwork. I found myself wanting to learn more about him and have done so by reading books, both fiction and non-fiction, and watching a number of documentary film presentations.

Imagine then my pleasure at learning that the National Gallery of Canada -- right here where I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada -- was going to host an exhibit called Van Gogh: Up Close. I enjoyed taking in many of the activities associated with the exhibit with various friend and family members.

On this page, learn a bit more about the National Gallery of Canada's presentation of Van Gogh: Up Close and about Vincent Van Gogh himself. I have chosen to illustrate this page with some very nice pieces of merchandise related to the artist. They would make great gift ideas for any fan.

Click here to order your Vincent Van Gogh print from Amazon.

Vincent Van Gogh Self Portrait
Vincent Van Gogh Self Portrait | Source

Who is Vincent Van Gogh?

For those not familiar with the artist.

Vincent Van Gogh's entire name was Vincent Willem van Gogh and he is often referred to as simply Van Gogh. Van Gogh was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter who used strong color, "rough beauty, emotional honesty" in his artwork whose presence in the art world has far outlived his lifetime.

Fast Facts About Vincent Van Gogh

  • DATE OF BIRTH: Vincent Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Zundert, Netherlands.
  • DATE OF DEATH: Vincent Van Gogh died on July 29, 1890 in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.
  • PARENTS: Theodorus Van Gogh and Anna Carbentus Van Gogh.
  • SIBLINGS: Two brothers, Theo and Cor and three sisters, Elisabeth, Anna & Willemina "Wil."
  • PERIOD: Post-Impressionism.

Vincent Van Gogh: A Life in Paintings

As part of the National Gallery of Canada exhibit, we went downtown and experienced the one-man play Vincent van Gogh: A Life in Paintings, presented by the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands and performed by Dutch performer Frank Groothof. Mr. Groothof's presentation was truly amazing as he used simple mechanisms like a hat or a pair of glasses or a letter to switch between the roles of Vincent and Theo Van Gogh. We felt privileged to have two of the free tickets to this presentation and we learned a lot about Vincent Van Gogh's troubled life and his paintings.

The story shared in the play is also shared in Paul Groothof's book, Vincent and Theo: Brothers in Art, which tells of the importance of the relationship between Vincent and his brother Theo.

Lecture by Guest Curator Cornelia Homburg

Vincent Van Gogh Almond Blossoms
Vincent Van Gogh Almond Blossoms

Cornelia Homburg is an independent art historian who currently resides in France and has spent many years studying and writing about Vincent Van Gogh. (To see Cornelia Homburg's books about Vincent Van Gogh click here.) The exhibit Van Gogh: Up Close is the result of her five years of organizational efforts. On May 27, she presented a lecture about the creation of this exhibit, of the choice of nature theme and of the difficulty of arranging to borrow works of art from the collections of many individuals and organizations.

One interesting story that she shared is that The National Gallery of Canada is very fortunate to have been given permission to borrow the painting of the image shown here, which features almond blossoms. Apparently, this painting does not travel very often but given the nature-themed focus of this exhibition, the owners granted permission for it to travel.

The lecture was followed by a very interesting question and answer section during which audience members drew upon Ms. Homburg's knowledge of the artist, his paintings and the art world.

Vincent Van Gogh Up Close
Vincent Van Gogh Up Close | Source

Van Gogh Up Close by Cornelia Homburg

Van Gogh: Up Close was written and published to coincide with this special art exhibition. Edited by Cornelia Homburg, the book takes the same focus that the exhibit does, closely examining 100 paintings and Van Gogh's approach to nature between the years of 1886 and 1890. Experts examined his work from a historical and a modern-day perspective and about his use of photography and interest in the Old Masters and Japanese art.

Amazon customer reviewer, Grady Harp, said, "This book encourages the viewer to appreciate the artist's obsession with the details and close up views of his subject matter - a technique that aids in the aura of rich glow his works convey."

Van Gogh Up Close Films

The National Gallery of Canada is running several Vincent Van Gogh films over the course of the three months of the exhibit. You can find a list of the films by clicking right here. They are all offered for free so you would be wise to show up early if you are interested in seeing them. If you are unable to attend the presentations but want to learn more about Vincent Van Gogh, you might enjoy the following documentary films.

Almond Blossoms: A Van Gogh Story

Almond Blossoms: A Van Gogh Story is an animated adaptation of the O. Henry short story The Last Leaf. The story is suitable for children and is told through animation and Vincent Van Gogh's paintings.

Van Gogh: A Brush With Genius

Van Gogh: A Brush With Genius is being aired currently at the Museum of Civilization and your admission ticket to the National Gallery exhibit will save you $2 off the cost of admision to the Imax movie. I expect that watching it at home will not rival seeing this on the Imax screen. However, if you wish to own it, it is available on blu-ray and DVD.

Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh

Some call this documentary, Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh, the best. The director took his camera to the places where Vincent Van Gogh lived. John Hurt provided the narration for this film by reading segments from Vincent's letters to his brother, Theo.

Would you you have liked to visit Van Gogh Up Close at the National Gallery of Canada?

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    • TreasuresBrenda profile imageAUTHOR

      Treasures By Brenda 

      6 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Yes, I finally had my chance to see the exhibit but haven't added those comments to this page yet. I am going again tomorrow with my sister. Anyway, I enjoyed it -- I learned a bit about Van Gogh, which I am sure makes it more interesting and I rented an audioguide. I think I learned more than if I had simply been reading the little signs beside the paintings. Be aware that this exhibit is very focused on Van Gogh's interpetation of nature. I did hear someone complaining that a lot of his best pictures were not there. Some of his best pictures were there -- but they were nature themed so others that some people look for would not have fit the focus of the exhibit if they had been available for loan.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      any comments on the exhibit?

    • verymary profile image


      6 years ago from Chicago area

      I love Van Gogh & would like to see his work anywhere. We are lucky to have some here at the Art Institute of Chicago. The kids and I like looking up close at his brush strokes -- very intense. Such happy colors for a sad guy. Nice lens!

    • ccsonian profile image


      6 years ago

      Van Gogh was an interesting character. We saw some of his art work in Amsterdam. If I was in Canada this would be fun to go see.

    • chas65 profile image


      6 years ago

      My mother was an art teacher and instilled the love of art in us. I enjoy seeing the works of great artists and was forunate enough to be able to visit several London museums.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      strong portraits by Van Gogh WOW!

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 

      6 years ago from Somewhere in England

      Yeah. Of course I would.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Brenda, you bet I would. Van Gogh's art is brilliant.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I would love to take our granddaughter to see Van Gogh up close! She has been fascinated with his work and his life for a couple of years now.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      I would really enjoy a visit there.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      6 years ago from Topeka, KS

      I would love to visit a Van Gogh exhibit! Hopefully it will come to my part of the world one day. :)

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image


      6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I would love to visit...what an informative lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • MermaidDoc profile image


      6 years ago

      I would love to visit the Van Gogh exhibit, sounds wonderful! Seeing a large number of works by one artist in once place provides a really fascinating look into the development of the individual and their work.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 

      6 years ago from Albany New York

      I've seen his work here in N.Y. some years ago. It was a special exhibit.

    • MissionBoundCre profile image


      6 years ago

      VanGogh happens to be my favorite artist. Love the harshness in his brush strokes and the incredibly bright colors. You must include Starry Nights, Poppies and Sunflowers in this lens

    • designsbyharriet profile image


      6 years ago from Indiana

      I would love to. I think if would help if you added something more about the exhibit itself and the National Gallery of Canada.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I'd love to visit the Van Gogh exhibit. How wonderful that you have this event so close to home!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      6 years ago

      I would love to visit the Van Gogh Up Close exhibit. What an opportunity!

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 

      6 years ago

      Absolutely! Reprints and pictures in books just don't do justice to the real work of art. I have joyfully sat and soaked in the beauty of real works of arts, when I would have only browsed a copy in a book.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Saw his works in Europe, bought prints of a few that I still have. Back in the 50s, there was a movie about him called "Lust for Life" starring Kirk Douglas. It's terrific that his paintings are on tour. I love 'em.


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