Art Exhibit Review: van Gogh Repetitions at the Phillips Collection


Vera Hanson

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Aside from the Phillips Collection’s impressive permanent collection, the current Vincent van Gogh exhibition, titled van Gogh Repetitions, made for a lovely afternoon of art. On display through January 26th, the Phillips Collection is lucky enough to currently have some of the artist’s best-known works under their museum’s roof. The exhibition is especially interesting because it’s not simply showcasing van Gogh’s works, but instead diving into his tendency to create multiple versions of the same painting.

Inside the exhibition, there is a strong focus on the specific elements within the works of art that give viewers insight into which paintings of van Gogh’s came first and what changes were made for what reason. Interspersed are digital slideshows that allow museum-goers to see the subtle changes in color, pattern, line and perspective that van Gogh paid close attention to while crafting his various versions of, for example, Postman Joseph Roulin. This breakdown of some of the most familiar of van Gogh’s pieces is what sets this exhibition apart. Additionally, quite a bit of the show is dedicated to gaining greater access into the mind of van Gogh. For example, who and what inspired him. Two rooms are dedicated to the works of artists who influenced van Gogh and who even played a crucial role in his personal and artistic life.

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It is due to these distinct elements that the exhibition does not just seem like an opportunity to admire van Gogh’s unique and innovative style, but also to obtain a better sense of the mind and the man behind the paintings. Highlights, for me, included the study of the repetitions of Road Menders and Madame Augustine Roulin. Finally, the museum has pulled together paintings that showcase van Gogh’s clear change in style and content over the years of his life – again, giving insight into the man’s psyche and the progression of his style.

The exhibition is open through the fall and winter and I would highly recommend visiting. Whether or not you have some of the pieces shown on display in your own city’s art museum, the Phillips Collection does an excellent job at shedding light on new ways to appreciate and study van Gogh’s work.

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The Phillips Collection advises that you purchase your tickets in advance and students can visit for $10. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday and extended hours on Thursday from 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. So, I strongly suggest taking the red line to DuPont and making your way over to the Phillips Collection on 21st Street to indulge in some of van Gogh’s most admired and noteworthy works.

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