The Courtauld to stage first exhibition devoted to Van Gogh's self-portraits across his career

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The Courtauld to stage first exhibition devoted to Van Gogh's self-portraits across his career
Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), SelfPortrait with Dark Felt Hat, 1886-87, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

LONDON.- The first ever exhibition devoted to Vincent van Gogh’s self-portraits across his entire career will take place at The Courtauld Gallery from 3 February – 8 May 2022.

Van Gogh Self-Portraits takes as its springboard Van Gogh’s iconic Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, one of the most celebrated works in The Courtauld collection, and will bring together around half of the self-portraits Van Gogh created during his short years as a painter – an exciting opportunity, given that many of these works are rarely lent.

This will be the first time that the full span of Van Gogh’s self-portraiture has been explored in an exhibition. An outstanding selection of more than 15 self-portraits will be brought together to trace the evolution of Van Gogh’s self-representation, from his early Self-Portrait with a Dark Felt Hat, created in 1886 during his formative period in Paris, to Self-Portrait with a Palette, painted at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in September 1889, one of his last self-portraits before his death in 1890.

The exhibition will be presented in The Courtauld’s new Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries and will be the first in the new Morgan Stanley Series of high-profile temporary exhibitions at The Courtauld. It will showcase Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear alongside masterpieces from major international collections, including the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the National Gallery, London. Several works in the exhibition were last together in Van Gogh’s studio and have never been reunited, until now.

The brand new Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries, created out of former office, conservation and circulation spaces, will enable The Courtauld to expand its acclaimed programme of international loan exhibitions. Situated on the top floor of Somerset House, this suite of two galleries, which will be unveiled when The Courtauld reopens in November 2021, is part of a major refurbishment project to revitalise and open up the Gallery, and to create state-of-the-art facilities, providing a transformed home for its internationally-renowned art collection.

Professor Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld, said: “As custodian of one of Van Gogh’s most important self-portraits, the opportunity to bring its peers together in one show is a tremendously exciting one for The Courtauld. The new Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries will be stunning spaces for visitors to enjoy these works, and we are particularly grateful to Denise Coates for the generous support, which has enabled their creation. We would also like to thank Morgan Stanley, for their leadership and support of ‘The Morgan Stanley Series’, presenting The Courtauld’s acclaimed temporary exhibitions from 2022, and other lead donors to the Van Gogh exhibition, including Kenneth C. Griffin, and to the Huo Family Foundation for their additional support.”

Denise Coates CBE said: "I feel sure that the newly renovated Courtauld galleries will give all visitors, both in person and online, a world-class opportunity to experience their own connections to visual art. I have found great fulfilment from my own exposure to the visual arts and I am pleased to be able to support that journey for others with The Courtauld.”

Van Gogh was a prolific practitioner of self-portraiture. His appearance is instantly recognisable, with his defined features, bright red hair and piercing gaze. Curated by Dr Karen Serres, Curator of Paintings at The Courtauld, Van Gogh Self-Portraits will explore the myriad ways Van Gogh approached one of his most enduring subjects: as an outlet for experimenting with new styles, a practical way of securing an available model, a critical tool for psychological introspection, and a means of constructing his own identity and presenting himself to the outside world.

The myth of Van Gogh today is linked as much to his extraordinary life as it is to his stunning paintings. This exhibition will allow both aspects to be explored. It is an opportunity and exhibition never to be repeated as Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear will be permanently on display at The Courtauld Gallery when it reopens and is unlikely to be lent elsewhere for many years to come.

A fully illustrated catalogue, featuring essays by international collaborators and presenting new research, as well as detailed entries on each of the works on display, will be published to coincide with the exhibition.

The Morgan Stanley Series launches with three major temporary exhibitions at The Courtauld Gallery, starting with Van Gogh Self-Portraits. Further exhibitions will be announced later in 2021.

Franck Petitgas, Head of International at Morgan Stanley, said: “We are delighted to partner with The Courtauld on The Morgan Stanley Series, which will showcase some of the Gallery’s major exhibitions from 2022. We look forward to Van Gogh Self-Portraits and supporting The Courtauld as it reopens its doors to its internationally renowned collection, right in the heart of London.”

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