When I was in kindergarten, my dream was to become an artist. I loved to draw – all over my clothes and the floor and even my face. When I learned about Van Gogh in my kindergarten art class, I became enamored. Even as a five-year-old, I dreamed about the countries in which he lived. As a five-year-old, I didn’t think about why he cut off his ear, or his mental instability… but I aspired to paint pieces as beautiful as his.
I have not yet had the chance to see an actual work of art by Vincent Van Gogh, but when studying at John Cabot University in Rome, I could not pass up the opportunity to see this truly enchanting art exhibit in the city. Seeing Van Gogh Alive has given me even more of a desire to see some of Van Gogh’s work in person. Some of my favorite Van Gogh paintings include Café Terrace at Night (1888; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo), Irises (1889; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles), Almond Blossoms (1890; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), and Sunflowers (1887-89; different versions at various museums worldwide).
What to Expect
Upon entry into the Van Gogh Alive art exhibition, you’re transported into a dim room with three of Van Gogh’s most famous works of art on one wall. Directly opposite this wall is a life-sized replica of the Bedroom in Arles (1888).
The following hallway projects three more works of art onto one wall. The slideshow is animated, so the petals in Almond Blossoms begin to fall and the stars in Starry Night Over the Rhone actually glisten as they reflect on the water. While it doesn’t sound too impressive just to look at a bunch of projections, they are made in hyper-fine detail. It looked almost as if the paint had been brushed across the screen by Van Gogh himself.
Walk through the hallway and you’ll find yourself in an even darker room filled with screens projecting Van Gogh’s life story through his artwork. The exhibit begins with Van Gogh’s artwork from 1880 while he was living in the Netherlands. The slideshow proceeds to display all the works created while he lived in Paris, France, followed by Provence, France, and up until his death in Arles, France, in 1890. Viewers also see a few handwritten letters, which some consider to be works of art themselves, as they have small sketches of future projects on the paper.
It may sound like a rather limited exhibit, since it only shows art from 1880 to 1890, but Van Gogh was in fact painting about one work of art each day during the last two months or so of his life. During his time, Van Gogh was not appreciated, but what makes his paintings so unique is his talent for using colors to express the mood.
“Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I see before me, I make more arbitrary use of color to express myself more forcefully.” (Letter to Theo Van Gogh, 1888)
Here’s a sneaky little trick: just skip the first big room and walk right into the next room. It seemed that everyone was staying in the first room to watch the slideshow, but the second one is much less crowded and shows the exact same 30-minute production.
The exhibit will be on until March 26, 2017. I recommend taking time out of your day to visit – it’s in Trastevere, close to JCU, too! The entrance fee is €12 for students, €15 regular admission. For more information, visit the official website.
Cassidy Marie Slockett
Class of 2017
Hometown: Saint Petersburg, Florida, USA