The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is staging an exhibition confronting the works of Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin due to run until June 2nd 2002.
This kind of clash between these two cursed artists who were the pioneers of modern art is seen as a rare event. Some 100 works produced during their stay in Arles in 1888 are being shown to visitors who will thus be able to decipher the differences between these painters who both had a very strong ego.
Van Gogh certainly displayed more emotion in his works than Gauguin who was more sensual with his brush. Both artists spent 63 days in Arles, a place that the Dutch artist truly considered as a heaven.
When Van Gogh arrived in Arles on February 1888 the town was covered with snow. Unmoved by the fact that the weather was cold whereas he was searching sun, Van Gogh was certain that he would reach his goal, that is to say determine a new way of painting unrivalled so far. He settled in the Carrel hotel-restaurant but finding his stay too expensive soon looked for another lodging, which he eventually found in May.
Van Gogh worked intensively and soon freed himself from Impressionist influences acquired in Paris to move towards a daring Expressionist style. In March, the weather changed and nature blossomed around Arles. Impressed by the scenery, the artist ragingly produced colourful works that were quite revolutionary at that time.
In May, the artist rented a small house to set up a studio where he painted ceaselessly. One element mesmerized him: the flashy, burning, blazing sun to which he devoted an incredible passion. However, Van Gogh was so immersed in his work that madness soon took possession of his mind.
Wishing to have Gauguin at his side with the ambition to create what was his dream, that is to say a studio in southern France, Van Gogh induced the French artist to come to Arles in October.
Gauguin found the house rather filthy and Van Gogh already rather strange. Trying to overcome his uneasiness he also did not like Arles much.
Van Gogh and Gauguin had little affinities together. The latter was strong and bulky and all the more practical knowing that he had to compose with dealers to sell his works while the former was a lonely person always filled with anguish and really not at ease in the company of people.
All the more, Gauguin did not regard Van Gogh as a close friend and held his companion's mad passion for painting in contempt.