Exhibition On Screen: Van Gogh & Japan

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The intensity of his fragile mind as he struggles with his art is laid bare with everymark he makes. It is the pursuit of a powerful simplicity that attracted Vincent vanGogh to the art of Japan, and the Japanese to his story.(David Bickerstaff, Director)I envy the Japanese Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo. In the exhibition on which thisfilm is based - VAN GOGH JAPAN at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam - one cansee why. Though Vincent van Gogh never visited Japan it is the country that had themost profound influence on him and his art. One cannot understand Van Gogh withoutunderstanding how Japanese art arrived in Paris in the middle of the 19th century andthe profound impact it had on artists like Monet, Degas and, above all, Van Gogh.Visiting the new galleries of Japanese art in Paris and then creating his own image ofJapan through in-depth research, print collecting and detailed discussions with otherartists Van Goghs encounter with Japanese artworks gave his work a new and excitingdirection. After leaving Paris for the south of France to what he thought of as near toa kind of Japan as he could find - the productive and yet troubled years that followedmust all be seen in the context of Van Gogh bending Japanese influences to his will anddefining himself as a modern artist with clear Asian precursors. In this little known storyof Van Goghs art we see just how important his study of Japan was. The film travels notonly to France and the Netherlands but also to Japan to further explore the remarkableheritage that so affected Van Gogh and made him the artist we know of toda

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