12 November 2019
In spring 2020, the Van Gogh Museum presents 'In the Picture': an exhibition focusing on the role and significance of the artists’ portrait. From 21 February to 24 May 2020 at the Van Gogh Museum.
Some 75 portraits offer a multifaceted introduction to the wealth of self-portraits and portraits produced by artists of each other in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Key themes include identity and image-building. In the Picture unites major names and new faces.
In addition to portraits by Vincent van Gogh, the exhibition features works by artists including Edvard Munch, Gustave Courbet, Francis Bacon and Helene Schjerfbeck. The exhibition also presents work by modern and contemporary artists who have been inspired by Van Gogh’s self-portraits.
Blending reality and fiction
Throughout the 19th century, the portrait as an artistic genre becomes increasingly popular. There was also growing interest in the artist as creative genius. The portrait of the artist themselves (the ‘artists’ portrait’) therefore becomes a highly popular subgenre in the 19th century. Self-portraits, portraits produced by artists of each other and studio portraits come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share one key connection: they are (re)presentations of the artists, in which the boundaries between reality and fiction are blurred.
The artists’ portrait: then and now
In the Picture reflects in detail on the role and significance of the artists’ portrait, then and now. Vincent van Gogh’s self-portraits and portraits of him by his friends form the heart of the exhibition, with a lead role reserved for Van Gogh’s Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, on special loan from The Courtauld Gallery in London.
Drawing on themes such as image-building, introspection and the myth of the suffering artist, the exhibition features a broad selection of artists’ portraits from the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century.
Lisa Smit, Associate Curator at the Van Gogh Museum: ‘It would be great if this exhibition can help visitors to understand that these artists carefully considered how they presented themselves, and played with these portrayals. Just like we do nowadays on social media. It’s something of all time’.
Major names and new faces
The exhibition includes work by a wide variety of artists and in addition to paintings by Vincent van Gogh, also features work by artists including Edvard Munch, Gustave Courbet, Emile Bernard, Helene Schjerfbeck, Francis Bacon, Thérèse Schwartze and John Singer Sargent.
The influence of Van Gogh’s self-portraits on the generations that followed him is also examined in detail. In this regard, the many films dedicated to Van Gogh’s life and work play a significant role. Due to the fact that only a single photograph of Vincent van Gogh has survived, the film personage of Van Gogh is often based on his self-portraits.
In the Picture opens at the Van Gogh Museum on 21 February 2020.