Van Gogh in 1888-1889, artistic breakthrough, Van Gogh Museum

The time in Arles became one of Van Gogh’s more prolific periods: he completed 200 paintings, and more than 100 drawings and watercolours. He was enchanted by the local landscape and light; his works from this period are rich in yellow, ultramarine and mauve. His paintings include harvests, wheat fields and general rural landmarks from the area, including The Old Mill (1888), a picturesque structure bordering the wheat fields.

The portrayals of the Arles landscape are informed by Van Gogh’s Dutch upbringing; the patchworks of fields and avenues appear flat and lacking perspective, but excel in their use of colour. His new-found appreciation is seen in the range and scope of his work. In March 1888 he painted landscapes using a gridded “perspective frame”; three of the works were shown at the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants.

Vincent was delighted with the bright light and colours in Arles, and set to work enthusiastically, painting orchards in blossom and workers gathering the harvest. He also made a trip to the coast, where he painted the boats.

His style became looser and more expressive. Vincent corresponded with Theo about his plan to set up a ‘Studio of the South’ in Arles for a group of artists whose work Theo could sell in Paris.

Gauguin arrived in late October 1888, but only after considerable cajoling. Theo had to stump up his travel expenses, for instance, but he was glad to do so for Vincent’s sake.

Van Gogh and Gauguin worked hard together and their collaboration resulted in some exceptional paintings. At the same time, however, the two men had very different views on art, which led to frequent, heated discussions.

Van Gogh and Gauguin visited Montpellier in December 1888, where they saw works by Courbet and Delacroix in the Musée Fabre. Their relationship began to deteriorate; Van Gogh admired Gauguin and wanted to be treated as his equal, but Gauguin was arrogant and domineering, which frustrated Van Gogh. They often quarrelled; Van Gogh increasingly feared that Gauguin was going to desert him, and the situation, which Van Gogh described as one of “excessive tension”, rapidly headed towards crisis point.

Gauguin worked mainly from memory and his imagination, while Vincent preferred to paint what he could see in front of him. Their very different characters caused the tension between them to rise steadily.

Vincent began to display signs of agitation and when Gauguin threatened to leave, the pressure became too much. Van Gogh became so distraught that he threatened his friend with a razor. Later that evening, he sliced off his own ear at the Yellow House, wrapped it in newspaper and presented it to a prostitute in the nearby red-light district.

The morning after he cut off part of his ear, Vincent was admitted to the hospital in Arles.

He remembered little about the ear incident and when he was discharged from the hospital in early January 1889, he resumed painting. In the months that followed, however, his mental health fluctuated sharply. Fearing a fresh bout of illness, he had himself voluntarily admitted to Saint-Paul-de-Mausole psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy in May.

Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum has the largest Van Gogh collection in the world It comprises 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters by Vincent van Gogh.The Van Gogh Museum is a museum dedicated to the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, on the Paulus Potterstraat and the Museumplein in Amsterdam, in the Zuid district. The collection of the museum contains more than two hundred paintings, five hundred drawings and seven hundred letters from Vincent van Gogh, as well as his collection of Japanese prints, and the library comprises more than 23,000 works.

The museum is situated at the Museumplein in Amsterdam-Zuid, on the Paulus Potterstraat 7, between the Stedelijk Museum and the Rijksmuseum The museum consists of two buildings, the Rietveld building, designed by Gerrit Rietveld, and the Kurokawa wing, designed by Kisho Kurokawa The museum offices are housed on Stadhouderskade 55 in Amsterdam-Zuid.

The Rietveld building is the main structure of the museum and exhibits the permanent collection The building has a rectangular floor plan and is four stories high On the ground floor are a shop, a café, and the introductory part of the art exhibition The first floor shows the works of Van Gogh grouped chronologically The second floor gives information about the restoration of paintings and has a space for minor temporary exhibitions The third floor shows paintings of Van Gogh’s contemporaries in relationship to the work of Van Gogh himself.

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