Van Gogh & Japan Exhibition
Bold colours, everyday objects and large surface areas – the main recognisable traits of Japanese art – are also trademarks of Van Gogh’s style. The connection between the Dutch painter and the traditional woodblock print style of Japan is crystal clear in this exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum, one of the most famous museums in the Netherlands, celebrating Van Gogh’s "Japanese" works and influences.
Van Gogh & Japan
In Van Gogh & Japan, running from March 23 until June 24, you can enjoy 60 paintings and drawings by Van Gogh alongside a selection of Japanese prints. It draws attention to Vincent’s admiration of the Japanese style and how his work style changed in response to it.
Special one-of-a-kind loans
This exhibition includes some rare loans, such as Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, which is back in Amsterdam for the first time since 1930. The fragile state of the work means that it has not been moved from London since 1955.
Japanese prints, known as ukiyo-e, were trendy in Paris during Van Gogh’s time there, from 1886 to 1888. Van Gogh caught the bug and began collecting these prints. The bold colours, the attention to detail and themes from nature began to seep into Van Gogh’s own work and a lot of paintings he created after this period were Japanese-themed. In letters he wrote around 1888, he said the South of France was "the equivalent of Japan" and he talked about making "paintings like Japanese prints".
Van Gogh in his studio
Known for his tormented soul later on in life, he wrote to his brother Theo in 1885, "My studio’s quite tolerable, mainly because I’ve pinned a set of Japanese prints on the walls…."
Although Van Gogh never went to Japan, the prints were enough to capture his imagination and threw him into a new frame of mind and the profound change in his work, as a result, is remarkable. "After some time, your vision changes, you see with a more Japanese eye, you feel colour differently", he wrote in 1888.
Don't miss the Van Gogh & Japan lecture in English
If you’d like to know more about the influence of Japanese printmaking on Van Gogh, you can even attend lectures at the museum. These not-to-be-missed talks are free to attend for visitors who have bought a ticket to the museum. The lecture on June 3 will be in English. Book your ticket!