Vincent van Gogh på ARKEN


The picture Loving Vincent is a true masterpiece. The title refers to the many letters the painter Vincent van Gogh wrote through his much too short lifetime. He died, when he was only 44 years old (1853-1890). More than 820 letters have been documented and there are probably more and these were all signed: Loving Vincent.

The film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category: ?Best animated picture?, but it is an understatement to say the picture is an animated film. All through the 90 minutes long film a Van Gogh canvas is set in motion with his famous figures, colours and landscapes, with original brushstrokes of more than 100 artists.

The act takes place a few years after the death of the artist, where the son of the mailman in Arles, South of France, gets the task of finding the recipient of the letter, which turned out to be the last one Vincent wrote, before his suicide, where he shot himself in the stomach. The fiction told journey the son of the mailman makes, takes him many places. The mailman learns that the recipient of the last letter Vincent writes is his little brother Theo. Unfortunately, Theo dies only six months after the death of Vincent, so Theo never receives the letter. And what were the circumstances of Vincent?s death? Did he really shoot himself with a gun that was never found? And why did he shoot himself in the stomach and not in the head, and that even at a time when his mental illness was stable? All through the picture there are flashbacks to the life of Van Gogh in black and white colours.

The movie is a must-see masterpiece, and can be seen at the Van Gogh exhibition at ARKEN, Ishøj, Denmark from 1st September ? 20th January 2019, and it is shown every dag at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

But ARKEN has must more to show than an animated film

Loving Vincent is just a small part of the big and splendid Van Gogh exhibition, where 39 works are presented to us from the productive artist. Vincent Van Gogh was capable of more than just cutting his ear off and was actually only productive with his painting for the last 10 years of his life. In that time he produced more than 900 paintings and even more drawings. Had it not been for his loving and supporting brother Theo Van Gogh, the poor soul would have starved to death. Vincent only sold one painting while he was alive.

Theo and Vincent grow up in a Calvinist home. The father was a priest. The Calvinist view of life had a positive effect on Vincent. In short this Protestant line is about being true to the Biblical essence, and that the relation to God is not only in majestic cathedrals, but could be right in front of you in nature or in every day life. In other words: ?Live with God every day in your every day life ? and not only on Sundays in mighty churches?.

The brush marks by Vincent Van Gogh in history

In 1877 Vincent is accepted at the Divinity School in Amsterdam, but the Latin language is not quite easy and therefore he finishes a missionary course instead a year later, and works as an ascetic preacher in the coal miner areas in Belgium, where he zealously follows the example of Jesus and the only thing he owns is a Bible, with which he comforts and encourages the miners, even down below in the dangerous and dark mines. The Protestant church finds his ascetic commitment offensive and do not prolong his contract. Maybe Vincent was a victim of professional jealousy, because of his success with preaching God?s word in other places than just the pulpit in the safe candlelighted churches, and Vincent continues as a preacher for a time on his own.

In 1880 the missionary work is of lesser importance to Vincent and he starts to be very interested in art. His passion for drawing from childhood is activated again and he starts to work with oil paints and canvas. The brother Theo, who works in the art dealer industry, decides to support Vincent financially. It is known that Van Gogh was seriously mentally ill at the end of his life, and therefore it seems not as an unrealistic thought that Theo has sensed the vulnerability of Vincent, and therefore he decided, according to his best ability, to give his 5 year older brother work peace and peace of mind to carry out his new passion, the art.

Van Gogh often depicts hard working peasants with references to the parables of Jesus about the Sower and the field, the relationship with God and the gratitude for the survival. Other scenes have the focus on simple things like a straw of grass. Other times we see the Sun, wheat fields, olive groves, pine trees and rocks in the scenes, which again are meant as a praise for the devine.


Van Gogh also starts to be interested in portraits and his selfportrait (1887) is very well known. In his letters he says himself that he wants to improve his talents with portraits and he has bought a mirror so that he could practice on himself ? it was not narcissism ? he could not afford models.

Examples of the works of the artist

Van Gogh at ARKEN gives us plenty of opportunities to notice the oddities the artist performs.


Trees in the grass , Coll. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo

Do not miss the painting: Trees in the grass April 1890 ? and please notice the 130 year old grass straw, which has taken the liberty to get stucked in the oil paint as a contribution to posterity. A silent footprint, which shows that Vincent van Gogh preferred to paint outdoor in real life and not just to stay inside in his studio. He painted outdoor in all kinds of weather. When it rained, he used an umbrella, if there was a storm he fixed his easel to the rocks at the sea or fixed it in some way.


Still life with a plate of onion, 1889. Coll. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo

Still life with a plate of onion, January 1889 ? was painted right after the artist cut half of his ear off on the 23rd December 1888. Here you can reflect on the absinthe bottle besides the table. A table, which is wind and crooked and seems to disregard perspective. This painting is my favorite.

Van Gogh has not signed several of his works, others are signed and some of them have the signature odd places in the scene itself as a kind of graffitti tag see e.g. Sunflowers, January 1889. Remember a magnifying glass or reading glasses.

In his letters Vincent drew quick handdrawings in black and white colours, and therefore he wrote, which colours the separate areas should have in the drawing in the drawing itself. ARKEN also shows examples of this curiosity. See

The last respect

Van Gogh did not obtain recognition in his short lifetime and lived in poverty in spite of his structered discipline. His mental illness was dominant. Today this black sheep is world famous for his fantastic colours and rich thick brushstrokes. As a viewer of his works you feel moved to show this harassed soul its respect. A respect he should have enjoyed while he was alive.


Photo: Anders Sune Berg

The planning of this potpourri of Van Gogh works has been on its way for two years. ARKEN expects 150,000 visitors in the opening period, and therefore the museum is open as late as 9:00 p.m. several days a week.

At the same time ARKEN reveals that at the moment they work on a Picasso exhibition for next autumn, maybe with a view, which has not been seen before, they reveal.

Van Gogh at ARKEN can be seen from 1st September 2018 ? 20th January 2019. The picture Loving Vincent is shown every day at 11:00 a.m. & 14:00 p.m.

Along with Van Gogh at ARKEN the art museum shows an additional collection with the Van Gogh inspired title Starry Nights, with art inspired by the big artist.

If you are not too tired, do not cheat yourself for an enormous J.F. Willumsen exhibition, also at ARKEN till the 13th January 2019.

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