Story by Collene Lewis
Denver Art Museums’s “Becoming Van Gogh” shows that there is more to the artist than “Starry Night” and a missing ear.
Compiled by Denver Art Museum curator Timothy Standring, “Becoming Van Gogh” offers viewers a world-exclusive peek into Vincent van Gogh’s artistic development. More than 70 paintings and drawings highlight van Gogh’s progressive use of color and brush strokes.
Though crowded, the exhibit was silent as viewers cruised from room to room, eyes lingering on van Gogh’s landscapes, flowers, oranges and self-portraits. Golden frames captured van Gogh’s Neo-Impressionist brush strokes, Japanese-inspired flat areas of color and Impressionist use of lighter colors.
Some viewers enjoyed the flow of the exhibit and seeing van Gogh’s varying style. Kelly Masimer, hospitality major at MSU Denver, said she liked the way the exhibit depicted van Gogh’s use of different techniques in his work.
“It was really great to see him start by disliking color, to ending his career with loving color,” Masimer said.
Grateful for the opportunity to see this unique collection of van Gogh paintings, Masimer was particularly thankful to those who own the art. Loans from 60 public and private collections helped form this vivid display.
The exhibit itself is a rare opportunity for Denver. Not only is the Denver Art Museum the only venue for “Becoming Van Gogh,” but it’s the first exhibition of van Gogh’s work in the Rocky Mountain region, according to the exhibit’s website.
Ashley Pritchard, communications and media relations manager at the Denver Art Museum, encourages students to plan ahead in order to see van Gogh’s work, as the exhibit will only last until Jan. 20, 2013.
“It’s not going anywhere else and you won’t likely see this collection of van Gogh artworks together again,” Pritchard said.
Pritchard said Standring had the idea for “Becoming Van Gogh” more than seven years ago to explore how van Gogh became the artist everyone recognizes today. Standring researched the artist’s life and then spent three years actually gathering artwork that represented van Gogh’s artistic journey.
Pritchard said MSU Denver students could take away an affinity for van Gogh’s hard work from “Becoming Van Gogh”. After failing at four careers, van Gogh taught himself to draw, use color and paint, despite a lack of popularity during his lifetime.
“He was a bit of an underdog,” Pritchard said. “I think anyone can relate to van Gogh’s hard work and the fact that he poured emotion into his paintings.”
This emotion was relayed by speculation on guests’ faces, as some attendees inched as close as possible to take in every shortened brushstroke.
For one viewer, attending “Becoming Van Gogh” was celebratory. Cindy DeLarber, 57, considers the exhibit her self-birthday present, as she made a connection with the artist.
DeLarber bonded with the work van Gogh created while he was in Paris.
Surges of color and floral design blossomed from van Gogh’s work during this time frame, as it represented his growing artistic creativity. Van Gogh’s main focus prior to Paris had been technique, but the flowers filling the room allowed viewers to catch a glimpse of van Gogh’s true colors.
DeLarber lived in Paris as a junior in college and said she was able to envision the settings where van Gogh’s famous work was originally painted. The art made her nostalgic for her past experiences, she said.
“That’s what we miss by living in this country,” DeLarber said. “Not seeing some of the art where it was actually painted.”