Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh
Champ de blé aux bleuets, 1890
Champ aux meules de blé, 1890
Champ de blé aux bleuets, 1890
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Currently on show at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris

Vincent van Gogh
Champ de blé aux bleuets, 1890

Wheatfield with Cornflowers
Oil on canvas, 60 x 81 cm
Photo: Peter Schibli, Basel

With fresh hopes of an improvement in his condition, on 20 May 1890 Vincent van Gogh departed for Auvers-sur-Oise, which lay to the west of Paris. After devoting himself at first to motifs that he found in and around the picturesque town, which had already attracted other artists (Daubigny, Pissarro, Cézanne) before him, van Gogh soon turned his attention increasingly to the vast fields of wheat on a plateau above the town. In these now legendary pictures, the painter lent expression to his “extreme loneliness”. The Fondation owns two works from this very last phase in van Gogh’s œuvre. The first to be painted was the animated Wheatfield with cornflowers: a gust of wind, rippling in ecstatic hatching through the stalks, makes the wheat field disappearing into the background ‘overflow’. The heads of a few yellow stalks of wheat detach themselves in the centre and plunge into the blue of the hills behind, thereby echoing the blue of the cornflowers in the field.

Champ aux meules de blé, 1890
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Currently on show at the Ordrupgaard Museum for Fransk Impressrionisme in Kopenhagen

Vincent van Gogh
Champ aux meules de blé, 1890

Field with Stacks of Grain
Oil on canvas, 50 x 100 cm
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

Considered one of van Gogh’s very last paintings, Field with stacks of wheat is both more rigid and at the same time more abstract than Wheatfield with cornflowers. Divided into fields of varying rhythmical structure, the brushstrokes here overlie the landscape like a grid. The picture culminates in the two large stacks of wheat that tower over the empty plateau like abandoned dwellings and thereby almost completely cut off the sky. The only living creature is a solitary crow, flying into the depths of the landscape on the left.

Vincent van Gogh

1853, Groot-Zundert, Holland –1890, Auvers-sur-Oise

Having previously undertaken a variety of studies and jobs in The Hague and Brussels, van Gogh increasingly focused on the private study of art. Through his brother Theo he got to know the leading Impressionist artists, including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, Paul Signac and Georges Seurat. Under their influence his palette became noticeably brighter, as shown by the paintings he produced from 1888 onwards, following a stay in Arles. Here van Gogh completed almost 200 paintings, over 100 drawings and watercolours; his preferred subjects were orchards, harvest scenes in summer and portraits. The attempt to establish an artists’ cooperative in Arles failed due to violent disagreements with his fellow artist Paul Gauguin, culminating in a dispute whereby the psychologically destabilized van Gogh cut off part of his ear. Shortly after this he admitted himself to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Rémy. On 29 July 1890 van Gogh died as a result of self-inflicted gunshot injuries. He is regarded as one of the major forerunners of modernism. The extensive correspondence he maintained above all with his brother Theo not only reveals a great deal about his artistic reflections and methods, it also gives insight into a deeply troubled soul.

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