Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 185329 July 1890), lived in Arles from 20 February 1888 to 8 March 1889. That is almost 15 months, over 63 weeks, precisely 444 days. During his stay, he produced some 200 paintings, made over 100 drawings and watercolours, and wrote some 200 letters. The vast majority survive a prodigal and quite astonishing outpouring, sustaining a pace that no other artist of the 19thcentury could match. This period in Arles is frequently called the zenith, the climax, the greatest flowering of Van Goghs decade of artistic activity. --Ronald Pickvance, Van Gogh in Arles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1984.
The Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles
was state-approved in 2010 and aims to showcase this Dutch masters artistic heritage while also asking questions about the resonance of his oeuvre in art today. This presentation of the paintings of Van Gogh, alongside works by contemporary artists, stimulates a fruitful dialogue centred on interrogation and reflection. The direction of this ambitious artistic project has been entrusted to the art critic and curator Bice Curiger.
The Fondation will now officially open in the Hôtel Léauteaud de Donines, a fifteenth-century mansion, situated in the towns historic centre, which has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, and which has been through numerous transformations. The light of Arles is the guiding thread running through the design of the architects Guilaume Avenard and Hervé Scheider, from the FLUOR agency.
Artistic director Bice Curiger has commissioned the contemporary artists Bertrand Lavier and Raphael Hefti to create permanent installations, punctuating the first steps of the visit and chiming with Vincent van Goghs oeuvre. Inside, spread out over two floors, 3500 sq ft / 1000 m2 of exhibition space will welcome original shows and installations, as well as commissioned works.
The Fondation is opening its doors with a twofold exhibition: Colours of the North, Colours of the South, curated by Sjaar van Heugten, which chimes with a selection made by Bice Curiger of works by nine contemporary artists: Thomas Hirschhorn, Elizabeth Peyton, Raphael Hefti, Gary Hume, Bertrand Lavier, Camille Henrot, Bethan Huws, Guillaume Bruère and Fritz Hauser.
In Van Goghs paintings, all is movement, all is animated. Its also the way I look at things. --Camille Henrot
Vincent van Goghs work as it is art has resistance, intensity, movement, conviction and positivity. His work, as it is art, is autonomous, and it is this autonomy that gives his oeuvre its beauty. ---Thomas Hirschhorn
Colours of the North, Colours of the South is the first of a series of exhibitions covering Van Goghs oeuvre. It follows the artists palettes from his early years in the Netherlands, through his exploration of theories of colour, especially that of Eugène Delacroix, then the influence of the old masters, but also of the impressionists and the late nineteenth-century avant-garde, up until his discovery of the light of the South and the intensity of the colours it brings out.