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It's seems a shame to me that the tragic life of van Gogh is what stands
out in the minds of many people rather than the work he did. And its
probably his life (or more specifically the fact that he sliced off part of
his ear and eventually committed suicide) that will bring many people to
Washington to see his work rather than the work itself. But, if this does
happen, so be it. I think anything that brings more of the public to an
art museum/gallery is a plus.
I recall my own first encounter with Van Gogh's work at the Art Institute
of Chicago many years ago. I was more excited about seeing a "van Gogh"
than by the work itself. It was only through subsequent visits to the
Institute (and other museums which exhibited his work) that I began to
learn from the work of van Gogh and really understood/enjoyed what I was
seeing. (i.e., van Gogh was a master of using "true" complements to agitate
the canvas and the viewer's optical experience).
I, for one, look forward to the opportunity to see a large body of van
Gogh's work in one place. I can only hope that people who come to this
show will walk away with a greater understanding/appreciation of the artist
and his work. THis will, of course, depend in part on the way in which the
show is presented to the public.
We should look upon this as an opportunity to help educate our students
(parents/colleagues/principals) about van Gogh, his life and his work. Most
of our students won't be able to go to Washington or LA. Perhaps we can
stage our own "blockbuster" show of van Gogh's work in our schools or art
rooms. Imagine having kids research his work and life, creating exhibition
catalogs, hanging his work, creating tickets, acting as docents, etc., and
then inviting in our communities for a "van Gogh" experience.
Just a thought.