From October 15 until January 8, the Cincinnati Art Museum will present ‘Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth’, an exhibition centered on Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Undergrowth with Two Figures’ (1890). The Cincinnati Art Museum acquired this work in 1967, widely recognized as one of the great masterpieces of Van Gogh’s late career and the visitor 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.
Exploring the works of the Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries, the exhibition 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 is the first to take 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 exhibition 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. Twenty artworks are borrowed from museum collections in Canada, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Japan and more, and are joined by works from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s own important collection of French paintings and works on paper. “Visiting this exhibition is like taking a walk in the woods with Van Gogh and fellow artists,” explains Julie Aronson, Curator of American Painting and Sculpture. Since the Cincinnati Art Museum’s acquisition of Undergrowth with Two Figures in 1967, the museum has made this treasure available in major exhibitions around the world. It will travel to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2018.
In Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth, the painter is brought to life for visitors with his own words about the intimate 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. With this exhibition, the Cincinnati Art Museum is leading the way with original scholarship in one of the few areas of Van Gogh study that remains to be explored. To shed further light on Van Gogh’s artistic milieu, the exhibition will also include Unlocking Van Gogh’s World, a rich display of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist prints from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s collection. In addition to Van Gogh, Artists Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Camille Pissarro, James McNeill Whistler and others will be included in this supporting exhibition.
In order to celebrate this special exhibition, the museum will organize some additional events through October:
Vincent: The Gala on October 14: fundraising event for the Cincinnati Art Museum
Art in the Making: Landscape Painting on October 15 (1–3 PM): families will journey through the woods to explore the special exhibition, Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth, before creating a landscape painting with the help of a special guest artist.
Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth: Lecture with Cornelia Homburg on October 16 (2 PM): art historian and one of the world’s foremost Van Gogh experts and co-author of the catalogue, Cornelia Homburg, will talk about Vincent van Gogh’s attraction to the shady forest scenes we often find in his work and will explain how the Cincinnati Art Museum’s celebrated Van Gogh painting, ‘Undergrowth with Two Figures’, fits into the rich tradition of painting sousbois, or “undergrowth.”
Connect: In the Woods on October 22 (11 AM–12:30 PM): this program is specifically designed for adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers and will focus on a multi-sensory exploration of art from the special exhibition Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth. After the tour, the participants will create their own work.
Picture This! Book Club for Teens: Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh edited by Irving Stone on October 22 (2 – 3:30 PM): Librarians from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County will present a book club for youth aged 12–18. After sharing thoughts and opinions of the book, the group will set off to view the related artworks.
About the Cincinnati Art Mueum
Located in scenic Eden Park, the Cincinnati Art Museum features an unparalleled art collection of more than 65,000 works spanning 6,000 years. Through the power of art, the museum contributes to a more vibrant Cincinnati by inspiring its people and connecting communities. In addition to displaying its own broad collection, the museum also hosts several national and international traveling exhibitions each year. Visitors can enjoy the exhibitions or participate in the museum’s wide range of art-related programs, activities and special events. General admission is always free for all. Museum members receive additional benefits.