Van Gogh Masterpieces from Around the World on View this Summer at the National Gallery of Canada
Ottawa, Canada - May 19, 1999
For the first time in history, seven of the most important flower subject paintings by Vincent Van Gogh will be united for an exclusive world-wide premiere at the National Gallery of Canada. Van Gogh's Irises: Masterpiece in Focus, opens 11 June and continues until 19 September 1999. This highly-focused exhibition which centres on the National Gallery's own masterpiece, Iris (1889), brings to Canada for the first and only time the celebrated painting Irises, from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, as well as the paintings Long Grass with Butterflies, from the National Gallery, London, England, Still Life: Irises, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Roses, from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. The exhibition will examine the development and significance of the Iris motif in Van Gogh's work during his self-imposed hospitalization in 1889 in an asylum in Saint-Rémy, in the south of France. The National Gallery in Ottawa will be the only venue in the world for this exclusive show.
" This is an exceptional reunion of the Getty Museum's Irises and the National Gallery's own Iris since they were last together in Van Gogh's studio in May 1889. This exhibition presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to see such a rare and outstanding selection of masterpieces by one of the world's most beloved artists. This marks a special occasion for the public to acquire a deeper understanding and enjoyment of Iris, one of the icons of our national collection, " explained Pierre Théberge, Director, National Gallery of Canada, "while enjoying the unique opportunity to view the ambitious, expansive Irises, on loan from the J. Paul Getty Museum for the first time since it was acquired by them in 1990. We are extremely grateful to the lending institutions for the loans of their highly prized masterpieces and for their generous collaboration".
In addition to these two powerful examples of Van Gogh's mastery, the exhibition features an additional selection of five oil paintings and two works on paper, drawn from the Gallery's permanent collection or on loan from prestigious museums around the world. " Through generous loans, it has been possible to widen the focus of this undertaking to include other superb examples of Van Gogh's œuvre, and to grasp the
extraordinary maturation of his artistic vision", stated Colin B. Bailey, organizer of the exhibition, and Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Canada.
In May 1889, Vincent Van Gogh decided to be a voluntary patient at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy where he was diagnosed to have a form of epilepsy. Between bouts of illness, he devoted himself to his paintings and drawings. One of his first paintings focused on the irises that grew in the garden of the asylum. This exhibition reunites paintings from his year at Saint-Rémy and includes work from the beginning of his career. While based on nature, these paintings also reveal Van Gogh's keen interest in colour theory, in the intensity created by juxtaposing different hues. His dynamic brushwork suggests the energy that the artist directed to his work.
Early on during his convalescence at the asylum, Van Gogh complained to his brother, "My stay here is very wearisome because of its monotony, and in the end I shall lose my energy.." The paintings assembled in Van Gogh's Irises: Masterpiece in Focus affirm, both loudly and joyously, that the very opposite was in fact the case. During the year spent in the confines of this provençal hospital, Van Gogh painted many of his most vigorous, assured, and ambitious compositions – a substantial group of which have been assembled for exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada.
A fully-illustrated colour brochure and an audioguide have been produced in English and French editions, and are available in the Great Hall. Lectures, tours and a workshop have been organized to complement the exhibition. Please call the National Gallery for information or visit our Web site at http://national.gallery.ca/.
The National Gallery of Canada gratefully acknowledges the sponsorship of The Iris Club, AIM Mutual Funds, and Air France, as well as CBC, Radio-Canada and The Château Laurier.
Van Gogh's Irises: Masterpiece in Focus is presented concurrently with the Gallery's major Daumier exhibition, on view from 11 June to 6 September. Tickets are time and date specific, and permit entry to both exhibitions. They may be purchased in person at the National Gallery of Canada or by telephone at (613) 998-8888 or toll-free 1-888-541-8888. Service charges apply. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and free to Friends and visitors under 18, but a ticket is required.
The exhibitions will be open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, and beginning 1 July, until 8 pm on Thursdays.
A media preview will take place on Wednesday 9 June at 10 am in the Great Hall. A tour of the exhibition by organizer Colin B. Bailey, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, National Gallery of Canada, will be followed by a luncheon. Viewing continues until 4 pm.
National Gallery of Canada
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