This Friday, the Yale University Art Gallery will hold its sixth and final lecture in its series, “Vincent van Gogh’s Turning Points.” Titled “Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise, the Last Works, and the Artist’s Reputation,” the lecture will take place at the Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Lecture Hall at 1:30 p.m.
“This lecture considers the power of these last paintings as well as van Gogh’s lack of financial success and fame during his lifetime, the posthumous steep rise of his reputation and influence, and the Romantic myths that infuse his biography,” according to the YUAG’s website.
The lecturer of the series is John Walsh, ’61, the Director Emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Walsh was a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Having taught art history courses at Columbia and Harvard, Walsh is now a visiting professor in Yale’s Department of History of Art.
A 2000 press release from the Getty Museum announcing Walsh’s departure from the institution notes that “the Museum under Walsh began a massive campaign of buying works of art, strengthening the staff, and planning a new museum.” This press release adds that “more than 4,200 art objects were acquired, along with some 70,000 photographs, which comprise the great majority of the works that Getty visitors see in permanent collection galleries and changing exhibitions.”
Through the lecture series at the YUAG, Walsh aims to examine the development of van Gogh’s artistic style over time.
According to the lecture series’ webpage, the lecture series addresses “the ways van Gogh’s interests and abilities developed during his short but brilliant 10-year career: how he created a visual language to achieve the effects he wanted, how his intentions changed over the course of a decade, and how encounters with other artists, relocations, and spiritual crises turned him in new directions.”
Thus far, the lectures have included “Van Gogh in the Netherlands,” “Van Gogh in Paris,” “Van Gogh in Arles I: Town, Fields, and Gardens,” “Van Gogh in Arles II: Friends and Models” and “Van Gogh and the Asylum at Saint-Rémy.”
Van Gogh, one of the most well-known post-impressionist painters, was born to a Dutch family of ministers and art dealers and was mainly self-taught, kickstarting his career with paintings of rural life in the Netherlands. In 1886, at age 33, he moved to Paris for formal training and was introduced to Impressionist pieces, Post-Impressionist techniques and even the Japanese woodblock printing technique. Van Gogh’s artistic style transformed under these influences in two years, before he migrated south to Provence to paint its vivid rural landscapes.
Despite suffering from mental illness, van Gogh continued to produce art during the final three years of his life: during this time, he produced his famous “Sunflowers,” “The Starry Night,” “Irises” and “Olive Trees.” After a prolonged mental breakdown, Van Gogh came under the care of homeopath Dr. Paul Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise in May 1890.
“His landscapes from the last months of his life are broadly and forcefully painted, and there are a few heartfelt portraits,” reads this event’s description on the YUAG website. Following his death in the summer of 1890, van Gogh was recognized for his expressive power and the moving depiction of nature in his works.
To do van Gogh’s career justice, Walsh takes a comprehensive view of the artist’s work in his lecture series, touching on “his Dutchness, his spiritual and artistic ideals, his unsurpassed drawing skills, his imagery, and the evolution of his distinctive painting techniques,” according to the YUAG website.
For Friday’s lecture, Walsh will focus on van Gogh’s works during his final year before his death, including the “Portrait of Dr. Gachet,” painted in June of 1890. The event is open to the public.
Bernice Zhao | firstname.lastname@example.org .
Correction, April 25: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the YUAG’s lecture series will conclude on Saturday. In fact, it will conclude on Friday.