Jan. 31, 2018
It wasn’t until this trip that I learned to pronounce Van Gogh’s name properly; it’s not van-GO as we say in English, but rather vahn-GOG, as closely as I can approximate it phonetically.
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is definitely a must-see if you are a fan of the artist’s work. The main museum deals with his life and work, with an emphasis on his letters to his brother Theo and others. One wall contains a family tree to keep track of whose who – he had two sisters and another brother besides Theo. Before we left for Amsterdam, we watched the movie Lust for Life, (IMDb review here) released in 1956, starring Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh. I realized from looking at Van Gogh’s self-portraits that the young Kirk Douglas did, in fact, look amazingly like Vincent!
The movie was a good introduction to the artist’s life, and the most important people in his life. I strongly recommend it as an introduction to his life and work.
In the lobby of the main building are light panels which project quotes and paintings in rotation.
We were not allowed to take pictures in the main galleries which displayed original Van Gogh works, but we had both taken a couple before we were told not to.
The reproductions of his works, which were blown up and covered entire walls, as well as his letters – similarly plastering the walls – were OK to photograph.
Blown up on the walls were some of Van Gogh’s letters, especially to his brother Theo. In these letters, he would often include small sketches of things he was working on or something he was describing. I couldn’t read the letters, of course, being in Dutch, but there were some translated quotes posted here and there.
A second part of the museum displays artwork of modern artists who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work. This section is accessible via a underground walkway, or by exiting the main building and walking over to the smaller building across the square. We did not go to this smaller section.
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is located on Museumplein, near the most comprehensive Dutch art museum, Rijksmuseum.