Van Gogh Up Close is the latest exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and it’s rounding up great reviews. Curators, Joseph J. Rishel and Jennifer A. Thompson, worked in tandem with Anabelle Kienle of the National Gallery of Canada to organize the show of 45 paintings assembled from various collections around the world.  While there are many themes a van Gogh exhibit can highlight, Van Gogh Up Close focuses solely on the works produced in response to his relationship with nature from 1886 until his death in 1890.

The natural landscape proved to be not only a respite but a catalyst for van Gogh’s creativity and inspiration.  Almost all the pieces in the exhibit are a snapshot of gardens, fields, and flowers with an emphasis on his expert experimentation with depth of field, color, perspective, and brush techniques.

While van Gogh is often associated with a wild, unpredictable streak, Van Gogh Up Close showcases a softer, self-reflective side to the artist as encouraged by his interactions with the natural world.  We can see this notion clearly articulated in a letter he wrote to his sister, “I…am always obliged to go and gaze at a blade of grass, a pine-tree branch, an ear of wheat, to calm myself.”

Van Gogh Up Close will run from February 1- May 6, 2012 and then head up to Ottawa to be displayed at the National Gallery of Canada, May 25–September 3, 2012.

Here’s a great slide show courtesy of the NYT.

Undergrowth With Two Figures" (1890)

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