Friday, July 31, 2009

Vincent van Gogh - the Letters project
Major publishing venture from Thames & Hudson

7 October 2009 marks the culmination of 15 years of research, a monumental collaboration of the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam) and the Huygens Institute (The Hague), to transcribe, retranslate and annotate every single surviving letter to and from Vincent van Gogh.

The result, a six volume, slip-cased book, Vincent van Gogh - The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition will be published worldwide on 7 October
(the UK edition by Thames & Hudson). On the same day a scholarly version of Van Gogh’s letters will be published on the world wide web.
To celebrate the Van Gogh Museum will present an exhibition Van Gogh's letters: The artist speaks.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) gave the world not just an abundance of remarkable paintings and drawings but also the most intriguing and multifaceted correspondence of an artist ever known. The 902 letters, more than 800 of which are preserved in the Van Gogh Museum, tell the story of his eventful life in a direct, compelling style, detailing his close ties with his brother and confidant Theo, and the evolution of his work and thoughts on writers and artists such as Delacroix, Degas, Zola and Dickens. The many sketches of his own works that he made in the letters also create a special relationship between his art and his letters.

Vincent van Gogh died in 1890 and his brother, Theo, died six months later, leaving his widow Jo van Gogh- Bonger in charge of the estate of both brothers. The artist Emile Bernard was the first to bring the letters of Van Gogh to the public eye by arranging for a small selection of letters by Van Gogh to himself to be published in the leading art magazine Mercure de France. These were greeted with great interest and helped bring the still relatively obscure Vincent Van Gogh to the public eye.

In 1914 Jo Van Gogh-Bonger published the first edition of the letters in book form – an edited version of Van Gogh's letters – and this publication greatly enhanced the reputation of Van Gogh and brought his work to even greater audiences in Europe.
The Letters project is the most ambitious undertaking ever launched by the Van Gogh Museum. Every work of art to which Van Gogh referred to in his letters has been carefully tracked down by a dedicated team from the Van Gogh Museum and the Huygens Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Art and Sciences (KNAW).

The years of research have yielded a more rounded, comprehensive and nuanced image of Vincent van Gogh. Rather than a deranged genius, the artist is revealed as a determined and forceful personality, able to express his views and the subjects occupying his mind with compelling force.
Van Gogh's letters: The artist speaks will be on view from 9 October 2009 to 3 January 2010 in the Van Gogh Museum.

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