On July 3rd, “Undergrowth with Two Figures” by Vincent van Gogh will return to the walls of the Cincinnati Art Museum
On July 3rd, “Undergrowth with Two Figures” by Vincent van Gogh will return to the walls of the Cincinnati Art Museum in the Mary E. Johnston Gallery (G227). One of the most well-known and adored paintings in the museum’s permanent collection, “Undergrowth with Two Figures” will again be available to all visitors for enjoyment and study.
“Undergrowth with Two Figures” was a highlight of the successful “Van Gogh & Japan” exhibition, which was on view in Hokkaido, Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Prior to the painting’s recent world travels, the Cincinnati Art Museum honored this work with “Van Gogh Into the Undergrowth” in fall 2016. This exhibition traced the evolution of Van Gogh’s style and technique through a group of landscape paintings spanning his short but dynamic career.
Completed in June 1890, “Undergrowth with Two Figures” is one of the final artworks Van Gogh painted before his death. A rhythmic pattern of thick brushstrokes animates the surface of this painting, and trees in rows recess toward the dark background, making the couple seem trapped by the dense vegetation. Van Gogh described the scene in a letter to his brother Theo, dated June 30, 1890, as “violet trunks of poplars which cross the landscape perpendicularly like columns. The depths of the undergrowth are blue, and under the big trunks the flowery meadow, white, pink, yellow, green, long russet grasses and flowers.”
Unlike the Impressionists, who deployed a novel use of color to record the transient effects of light and atmosphere, Van Gogh was obsessed by the symbolic and expressive aspects of color. As he explained to Theo, “Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes, I use color more arbitrarily so as to express myself more forcibly.”
To celebrate the homecoming of the painting, the Cincinnati Art Museum and Listermann Brewing Company are collaboratively releasing a van Gogh-themed beer. A launch party for the beer will be held at the Listermann taproom on Saturday, July 21st. The beer will also be available at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s event “Art After Dark: Beer Bash” on July 27th.