Today we celebrate Vincent van Gogh, who was born March 30, 1853. The occasion of the 163rd anniversary of his birth provides an opportunity to highlight the two paintings in the DMA’s collection by this renowned artist.
Painted in 1887, River Bank in Springtime evidences van Gogh’s belief that “a work of art is a slice of nature.” The painting bears all the characteristics of works he made early in his career when he was working in Paris under the influences of the Impressionist, Neo-Impressionist, and Pointillist artists’ avant-garde methods. He experimented with Pointillism briefly, but found it too rigorous for his sensibilities and soon turned to exploring other innovative ideas.
Van Gogh painted Sheaves of Wheat shortly before his death, at a time when he was particularly plagued with physical and psychological problems. Each of the eight bundles of wheat bends and twists in its own unique manner, almost as if each stack is an individual portrait, yet they unite on the canvas with firm solidarity. This late masterpiece has an intensity and quality that remains unrivaled.
Over the course of his life, van Gogh wrote hundreds of letters to his brother Theo. In one of them, he wrote, “A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.” The Dallas Museum of Art is truly a fortunate beneficiary of Vincent van Gogh’s good deed and artistic genius.
Martha MacLeod is the Senior Curatorial Administrator to the Curatorial Department and Curatorial Assistant for European and American Art.