Van Gogh Museum – Van Gogh & Japan

The exhibition 'Van Gogh & Japan' will shed light on the influence exerted by Japanese art on Vincent van Gogh. On view from 23 March 2018.

Van Gogh created his own image of Japan by studying and reading about Japanese art, collecting and copying prints, and discussing their aesthetic qualities with other artists. His encounter with Japanese prints helped him to give his work a new direction.

 

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The exhibition will demonstrate, step by step, how Van Gogh bent the Japanese example to his will. In this way he defined himself as a modern artist and positioned himself opposite such artists as Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin. The size, nature and importance of Van Gogh’s own collection of Japanese prints will be explored in detail, as will the role played by his prints in the renewal of his own idiom.

"I envy the Japanese the extreme clarity that everything in their work has." (letter to Theo van Gogh, September 1888).

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Rineke Dijkstra Retrospective at Pont Museum on view from 10 March

Since the Beach Portraits that brought Rineke Dijkstra (Sittard, 1959) international fame during the 1990s, the general number of photographic images surrounding us has grown explosively. Not only via mass media, but digitally as well, we’re bombarded with photographs, selfies and videos of friends and others every day. How does the work of Rineke Dijkstra distinguish itself from this endless flow of photographic portraits? What makes her photographs and videos so unusual?

 

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While studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, Dijkstra photographed nightlife in Paradiso and on graduating was commissioned to produce portraits for the business magazine Quote. Men in suits were meant to come across as being self-confident, not wanting any loss of face. But who, Dijkstra wondered, was actually behind that mask? What makes that person different from all others? This question became a mainspring for her uncommissioned work, but also with the assignments that she accepted. Take, for instance, the portrait of the Australian film actress Cate Blanchett. She’s wearing a lace dress and has a fairly fragile appearance. But is this real, or is she playing a role? Such questions interest Dijkstra. Despite the faithfully rendered appearance of the photograph, the portrait subject ultimately remains unfathomable and elusive.

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Among children that question seems to play a lesser role, one might say, since they are still uninhibited. Look at the moving video of Ruth, an English schoolgirl who sits on the floor intently drawing a copy of a painting by Picasso. But with children, too, that question remains evident: who is hiding behind a mask, and who is showing his or her true face? This dilemma is subtly conveyed in the video of Marianna, a ten-year-old Russian ballerina who practices her dance steps in a pink studio. The cloyingly sweet surroundings and the spirited music stand in stark contrast to the stern voice of a teacher who is giving instructions off screen. With each new attempt to execute the steps perfectly, Marianna smiles as she has been conditioned to do, but gradually a certain fatigue and defiance nonetheless begin to emerge.

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High Society at the Rijksmuseum

Top international art in the Rijksmuseum, from Cranach to Velázquez and from Rembrandt to Manet.

The highlight of the exhibition will be Rembrandt’s pendant portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. These spectacular portraits were painted to commemorate the couple’s marriage. This will be the first time since their restoration that they will be on view to the public. The exhibition features over 35 paintings from international museums and private collections in Paris, London, Florence, Vienna and Los Angeles.

Four centuries of glamour

Most of the subjects are very elegantly or extravagantly dressed, so the exhibition presents a snapshot of four centuries of international fashion: from the slashed breeches and doublet of 1514 to the haute couture of the late nineteenth century.

Guilty Pleasures

While the glamorous portraits present high society at its very best, there are more than 80 prints and drawings depicting – in explicit detail – events that often took place behind closed doors, such as parties, drinking, gambling and surreptitious visits to brothels and boudoirs. These drawings and prints are from the Rijksmuseum’s own collection.

The finest international works

Rarely have so many paintings by world-famous artists been displayed at a Rijksmuseum exhibition. The paintings range from the early sixteenth century to the early twentieth century. The finest works include impressive portraits by Cranach the Elder, Veronese, Velázquez, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Sargent, Manet, Munch and, of course, Rembrandt van Rijn.

 

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