The Van Gogh Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023, and is kicking off this anniversary year with a tribute to the Van Gogh family. Without the unconditional support that the family offered Vincent, the museum simply would not have existed.
The exhibition Choosing Vincent. Portrait of a Family History tells the story of the Van Gogh family, which has not received the attention it deserves. This story is punctuated with doubt, setbacks, pride and triumph. From 10 February 2023, many masterpieces and less well-known gems show and tell how a personal family collection grew to become a world-famous museum collection.
Shortly after Vincent van Gogh’s passing in 1890, his beloved brother Theo also dies. Theo’s wife Jo van Gogh-Bonger is crushed and left behind with their son Vincent. As a young widow, Jo faces an important choice: what is she to do with her brother-in-law’s enormous collection of paintings, drawings, prints and letters, and the collection of art by contemporaries compiled by Theo and Vincent?
Jo decides to continue pursuing Theo’s dream of promoting Vincent’s art. She passionately devotes the rest of her life to preserving and raising awareness of Van Gogh’s work. What if Jo had not plunged herself into this mission? And what if her son Vincent hadn’t taken the initiative to found the Van Gogh Museum?
The exhibition Choosing Vincent. Portrait of a Family History introduces visitors to the moments in the lives of Vincent, Theo, Jo and their son Vincent (also known as ‘the engineer’) that have helped determine the course of history.
With some 200 paintings, 500 drawings, 30 prints and more than 800 letters, owned by the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, the Van Gogh Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh. Choosing Vincent. Portrait of a Family History illuminates the genesis of this collection. From Vincent and his brother Theo’s early years in Brabant through to the construction of the Van Gogh Museum, placement of the collection, and its opening in 1973. The exhibition deals with Vincent’s long road to becoming an artist, the special bond between the brothers, and the role of the Van Gogh family, who are still closely involved with the museum.
Lisa Smit, curator of the exhibition Choosing Vincent: ‘This is a great opportunity to discover the collection, as it was passed on from Vincent and Theo, in a completely new way. And it is remarkable just how closely involved the family still is. They are also contributing to this exhibition, for which we are very grateful’.
This anniversary exhibition presents the Van Gogh Museum’s unique collection in a new way. Insights gained from various long-term research projects conducted by the museum are united in this engaging, accessible exhibition, which is perfect for a family visit.
Choosing Vincent. Portrait of a Family History will be on display at the Van Gogh Museum from 10 February to 10 April 2023.
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