A letter written jointly by Vincent Van Gogh and fellow post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin — detailing brothel visits, their painting progress and frank assessments of each other — has sold at auction for around $321,000.
The Vincent Van Gogh Foundation acquired the letter at a Paris auction house on Tuesday. According to a press release, they consider it to be the “most significant document written by Van Gogh that was still in private hands.”
It is the only known letter that Van Gogh has penned with another writer.
“Gauguin interests me greatly as a man — greatly,” he reveals in the letter.
The letter was written on November 1 or 2 of 1888, shortly after Gauguin had arrived to stay at the Yellow House in Arles, in the south of France, where Van Gogh lived and produced some of his most vibrant art. Van Gogh dreamed of creating an artists’ paradise in Arles, and Gaugin’s arrival was a step towards that goal.
Their time living together would turn out to be brief, but intense, ending with Gauguin leaving in December around the same time that Van Gogh infamously cut off his own ear.
Although the letter is addressed to another artist, Emile Bernard, the text contains almost a dialogue between Van Gogh and Gauguin themselves, reflecting on their views on art and each other.
Van Gogh described Gauguin as “an unspoiled creature with the instincts of a wild beast.”
“With Gauguin,” he wrote, “blood and sex have the edge over ambition.”
After finishing his portion of the letter, he leaves space at the bottom for Gauguin to add his own short message to Bernard, and Gauguin takes the opportunity to share his opinion of the other artist.
“Don’t listen to Vincent; as you know, he’s prone to admire and ditto to be indulgent,” Gauguin wrote.
The letter also contains numerous references to paintings the two were working on — and where they went for inspiration.
“Now something that will interest you — we’ve made some excursions in the brothels, and it’s likely that we’ll eventually go there often to work,” Van Gogh wrote. A painting Van Gogh created in October of 1888 called “The Brothel” seems to depict one of the brothels that he visited.
After Van Gogh cut off his ear in December of that year, he reportedly gave it to a woman who worked as a maid at a brothel.
“At the moment Gauguin has a canvas in progress of the same night café that I also painted, but with figures seen in the brothels,” the letter continues.
The painting he refers to is likely “Night Cafe at Arles (Madame Ginoux),” where Gauguin painted Madam Ginoux, a woman Van Gogh had also painted earlier, sitting inside of a cafe that the two frequented. Three figures in the background of the painting are thought to be from the brothel that Van Gogh mentions in the letter.
Van Gogh’s earlier painting of this same cafe is called “The Night Cafe,” and also depicts the inside of the Cafe de la Gare, though it focuses on the colours of the room and does not have one central human figure.
The two artists both wrote of their feeling that they were at the forefront of a great art movement, and that the future of art was just around the corner.
Van Gogh wrote that he believed “in the possibility of a great renaissance of art.
“It seems to me that we ourselves are serving only as intermediaries. And that it will only be a subsequent generation that will succeed in living in peace.”
Van Gogh was plagued with depression and other mental health issues throughout his life. He died in 1890 from a gunshot wound. It is widely believed that he died of suicide, although some have speculated that he may have been shot by someone else.
Although Van Gogh and Gauguin never saw each other again in person after that fateful day in December when Gauguin left, the two continued to correspond through letters until Van Gogh’s death.
The letter will be displayed by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in an exhibit of the Dutch painter’s letters called “Your loving Vincent,” in October.
Weyburn's Permanent Art Collection featured in Rotary talk – Weyburn Review
The City of Weyburn’s Permanent Art Collection will be featured in new coffee table books and at the Weyburn Recreation and Culture Centre (WRCC), Rotary Club members heard in a presentation by Arts Council curator Regan Lanning. (See examples from the Permanent Art Collection above)
The arts council is also in a state of transition now, as the Signal Hill Arts Centre was emptied over the past week, and some programs and facilities will now not be available until the WRCC opens in September of 2021.
The items in the city’s art collection are being catalogued by Weyburn photographer Chris Borshowa, and Lanning featured a few of the art works that have already been done as she took part in a Zoom meeting with the Rotary Club.
“We have over 200 pieces in the collection, and we’ve been adding one or two pieces to the collection every year from artists all over Saskatchewan,” said Lanning, who showed a number of examples by well-known and lesser known local and provincial artists.
Showing a photograph by internationally-known photographer Courtney Milne, she noted that when he passed away, he had instructions that all the photos in his studio were to be donated to Saskatchewan non-profit organizations, and the Weyburn Arts Council received a number of his photos.
One of the first works acquired for the city’s collection was by Cornelius Kievits, father of pottery artist Casey Kievits.
“He was Dutch, and painted much in the style of the Dutch masters in his work,” said Lanning.
Others shown included Art McKay, Michael Lonechild, former WCS art teacher and artist Eltje Degenhart, and other local artists like Joan Linley, Roland and Lois Olson, Gordon Stairmand, Kay Flury, Bev Sobush-Melby, Margaret Mainprize, Pieter van der Breggen and Kathryn Groshong, to just name a few.
Lanning noted that Rotary member Alex Miles donated his personal collection of works by Eltje Degenhart.
The coffee table books will feature photos of the artists and information about them, so people can learn about the art and the artists. There was an effort ongoing to get sponsors for the books, “then COVID happened. The project’s kind of on hold for now, but we’re going to go ahead with the documentation.”
Once the WRCC is finished, the City’s Permanent Art Collection will have a home there, and Lanning is making plans to do a big exhibition to show the collection pieces off.
For future acquisitions for the collection, Lanning noted that the criteria had not been updated since 1974, so she has been tweaking the criteria to make it more diverse, and to include more local artists from a wider range of years.
Meantime, the Signal Hill Arts Centre was sold by the City and all of the arts program equipment, furniture and materials have had to be moved out, with 99 per cent of everything out as of the weekend.
“We’ve been all-hands-on-deck, cleaning out 40 years of treasures from the building, and everything will be moved into storage,” said Lanning, noting that the hope is the WRCC will be finished by around next March, and they can start moving everything in to be ready for opening in September.
She noted the new gallery at the WRCC will be one and a half times as large as the Allie Griffin Art Gallery at the Weyburn Public Library, plus there will be her office, the pottery studio, and three arts education rooms all on the main floor.
The gallery area will also have mobile walls, so she can create smaller art shows within that space also, or even hold small concerts in the area.
One plus in the design is that there will be a walking track up on the second floor, and people can look down into the gallery area, perhaps to be drawn in to see an exhibit.
There will be a collaborative mural project for Weyburn’s Culture Days, with dates being set for Aug. 24-28, from 7-9 p.m. each evening, at the Leisure Centre’s Sun Room, Lanning noted.
The Culture Days will be a virtual event this year, featuring videos of artists doing their work, in addition to the mural project which Lanning is setting up with physical distancing in mind.
The mural project will use a photograph by John Woodward, and people can book a spot on one of the five evenings set aside for the project. To keep a physical distance between everyone to stay safe, only a certain number of spots are available each evening, said Lanning, with four tables to be set up to create parts of the mural. There is no cost to take part in this collaborative project.
Despite pandemic, Montreal art museum works to build links with Inuit – Nunatsiaq News
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts continues to move ahead with big plans for new Inuit-focused exhibits.
That’s despite the challenges of organizing exhibits and then welcoming visitors under COVID-19 restrictions.
The museum intends to continue strengthening the links between the north and south of Quebec, said Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk, a curator and mediator of Inuit art at the museum.
One of Koperqualuk’s goals is to renew the museum’s exhibition of its Inuit collection, which is now housed in a small room.
The planned reinstallation will allow for a larger display of works in the current collection, as well as the inclusion of new pieces from young artists, Koperqualuk said.
These are likely to be grouped around different themes related to Inuit culture, such as qaqqiq, or family—”the basis of our communities,” and sila—”the relationship with our environment,” she said.
“But nothing is definite yet because of the pandemic,” Koperqualuk said.
Still, Inuit can look forward to learning more about their culture through this art, which talks about shamanism and legends, she said.
“Through art you can gain a good understanding of things that are important and expressed through art,” Koperqualuk said. “Our storytelling was stopped by missionaries, but it continues through art. So even us, we can learn about ourselves.”
The museum has several exhibitions planned with a Nunavik connection, including an exhibition of acclaimed artist Matiusi Iyaituk of Ivujivik.
Other plans include the repatriation of a qajaq from Rennes, France.
This qajaq had been in the private collection of historian Christophe-Paul de Robien, who died in 1756. It’s thought to be the oldest intact Canadian kayak in the world, said former museum director Nathalie Bondi in June.
Under Bondi, who was dismissed this summer, the museum moved to align itself more closely with Inuit in 2018, signing an agreement with Nunavik’s Avataq Cultural Institute, which is based in Montreal.
Plans then included a move by Avataq from its present location in Westmount to museum-owned properties on Crescent St.
But Avataq now wants to move its head office to Nunavik, so this Crescent St. space may develop into more of a cultural centre, Avataq’s executive director Robert Fréchette told Nunatsiaq News earlier this summer.
For the art collector with everything, the $1.5 million COVID mask – TheChronicleHerald.ca
MOTZA, Israel (Reuters) – Art rather than ostentation is the rationale behind the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask, say the Israeli jewellers who are crafting the $1.5 million object for an unnamed U.S.-based client.
Made out of 18 carat gold and studded with 3,600 black and white diamonds, the mask will be fitted with an N99 filter to offer a high level of protection, said Isaac Levy, owner of the Yvel jewellery brand.
“I don’t think (the customer is) going to use it going to the supermarket but he is going to use it here and there, I’m sure,” said Levy.
He described the client as a Chinese art collector living in the United States.
“He is a young-old customer of ours, very charming, very outgoing, very wealthy and he likes to stand out,” Levy said. The jeweller plans to deliver the mask personally when it is completed, in October.
The mask, which a team of around 25 artisans is working on, might be viewed a vulgar display of wealth during hard economic times, but for Levy it is above all a work of art.
“For a lot of people around the world it may be the most expensive mask in the world and maybe that’s a really big thing,” he said.
“For us, it’s a way to protect the positions of the people in the factory in order for them to be able to support their families.”
(Reporting by Dedi Hayun; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and John Stonestreet)
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