Artful Amsterdam: The Van Gogh Museum

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. Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van GoghI 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.Kirk Douglas-Lust for Life

In the lobby of the main building are light panels which project quotes and paintings in rotation.
1-31 Van Gogh Museum1

1-31 Van Gogh Museum2


20180131_120118We 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.

1-31 Van Gogh painting of books-Van Gogh Museum
Still Life with Books by Vincent Van Gogh


Van Gogh self-portraits




The Yellow House – the house in Arles, France, where Vincent went to find peace and subjects to paint.

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.147
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.

In this letter to Theo, he includes in the sketch the colors he plans to use for the painting – lilac, emerald, rose.



1-31 Van Gogh letters-Van Gogh Museum
In this letter, he sketched one of his most famous paintings, The Bedroom. There are actually three completed copies of this painting – he painted copies in case one or another should be destroyed, but each painting is slightly different than the others. This is a depiction of the bedroom in his house in Arles,  made famous by the painting The Yellow House.

148A 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.






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