Oct. 15-Jan. 8, Cincinnati Art Museum
Centered on Vincent van Gogh’s “Undergrowth with Two Figures,” the Cincinnati Art Museum’s new exhibition, “Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth,” will take visitors up close with celebrated landscapes.
For the first time, this show – presented only at the CAM – brings together 20 important pieces of art on loan from around the world.
Exploring the works of the Post-Impressionist painter and his contemporaries, it traces the evolution of the Dutch artist’s love of the natural world, powers of observation and mastery of detail through this special group of landscape paintings spanning his career.
This exhibition takes a close look at Van Gogh’s poetic depictions of the forest floor, known as sous-bois, the French term for “undergrowth.” These odes to nature were a reaction to the increasing industrialization and urbanization of society.
The show allows visitors to compare Van Gogh’s treatment of this theme with examples by those who influenced and inspired him, including Théodore Rousseau, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin.
“Visiting this exhibition is like taking a walk in the woods with Van Gogh and fellow artists,” said Julie Aronson, curator of American painting and sculpture.
“Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Undergrowth with Two Figures’ is widely recognized as one of the great masterpieces of van Gogh’s late career. It is also a visitor favorite – often the favorite – among the many extraordinary works in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s galleries. This exhibition is a revelation that puts this significant work in the context of the art of its time.”
Since CAM’s acquisition of the painting in 1967, the museum has made it available for major exhibitions around the world. It will travel to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2018.
In this show, the painter is brought to life for visitors with his own words about the relation between nature and art and the artists he admired, extensively quoted from his voluminous correspondence with his brother Theo. These letters serve as inspiration for the exhibition’s interactive activity, which involves a hands-on letter-writing experience. Another interactive will employ Google technology to allow visitors to explore ‘Undergrowth with Two Figures’ on a touch screen, revealing the texture and brushstrokes of the painting in greatly enlarged detail.
The accompanying catalog examines Van Gogh’s engagement with the sous-bois subject from various perspectives. Co-published by D Giles Limited, it will be sold at the CAM and online.
To shed further light on Van Gogh’s artistic milieu, the exhibition will include “Unlocking Van Gogh’s World,” a display of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist prints from the CAM collection. Works by Van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Camille Pissarro, James McNeill Whistler and others will be included in this supporting exhibition.
“Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth” was organized with support from the Harold C. Schott Foundation and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Corporate sponsors include PNC, CFM International and Christie’s.
The exhibition will be adjacent to “Kentucky Renaissance: The Lexington Camera Club and Its Community, 1954-1974,” which will be on view Oct. 8-Jan. 1, and tickets are good for both.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-17 and free for museum members and children 5 and younger. Admission is free to museum members.
Related activities to check out…
“Vincent: the Gala,” the Oct. 14 party celebrating the opening of “Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth,” is sold out. But plenty of other events surround the exhibition. These include:
Art in the Making: Landscape Painting, Saturday, Oct. 15, 1-3 p.m. Families will journey through the woods to explore the exhibit before creating a landscape painting with the help of a guest artist. Designed for children ages 6-12 accompanied by an adult. Admission: $5 members, $10 others. Reservations required.
Lecture with Cornelia Homburg, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2 p.m. Curious about van Gogh’s attraction to the shady forest scenes we find in his work? Art historian Homburg will tell how “Undergrowth with Two Figures” fits into the tradition of painting sous-bois, or “undergrowth.”
Connect: In the Woods, Saturday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. This program is designed for adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers. Museum educators will provide a multi-sensory exploration of art from the van Gogh exhibition. After the tour, participants will create their own masterpieces. Reservations required.
Art After Dark: Into the Hallows’ Night, Friday, Oct. 28, 5-9 p.m. Celebrate the mysteries of the wooded world at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s monthly final Friday celebration. This happy hour includes ghost tours, entertainment and a cash bar.