vincent van gogh's ‘starry night’ artwork heads home to arles for the first time in 136 years

vincent van gogh's ‘starry night’ artwork heads home to arles for the first time in 136 years

Arles welcomes Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhône

 

Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhône has returned to Arles, the city where the artist made his famous painting, almost 136 years since it was created in September 1888. For the first time, the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles brings it home to its birth city, loaning it from the collection of the Musée d’Orsay, for the exhibition ‘Van Gogh and the Stars,’ conceived by Jean de Loisy and Bice Curiger. The show, which runs  between June 1st and September 8th, 2024, features 165 artworks by over 78 artists, including Anish Kapoor, Mariko Mori, Anselm Kiefer, Victor Hugo, Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, and more.

 

Their works shed light on the artistic influences that the Dutch painter drew on to paint it and the impression it has generated and left among the artists after him. Starry Night Over the Rhône’s homecoming coincides with two celebrations that began in April 2014. On April 4th, the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles was inaugurated. The following day, April 5th, the foundation stone for the main building of LUMA Arles was laid, the tower designed by architect Frank Gehry. Vincent van Gogh was the heart of both projects, and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their founding, the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles and LUMA Arles joined forces.

 

This collaboration includes a public art program centered around one of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpieces. LUMA Arles even tapped the Dutch artist DRIFT for a drone performance above the museum, tracing the movement in Vincent van Gogh’s paintings using algorithms. The lit drones in the night sky also marked the opening of the exhibition Living Landscape at LUMA Arles, an extension to the group show and exhibition at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, ‘Van Gogh and the Stars’ where the Dutch painter’s Starry Night masterpiece has returned.

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
View of the Fondation courtyard and shop, with the rooftop installation The Violet Blue Green Yellow Orange Red House by Raphael Hefti, 2014 | images courtesy © Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles and Fluor Architecture (unless stated), photos by François Deladerrière

 

 

‘Van Gogh and the Stars’ exhibition with 165 artworks

 

At the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, the exhibition Van Gogh and the Stars presents Starry Night Over the Rhône alongside the artworks of both contemporary and revered artists such as Anish Kapoor, Mariko Mori, Anselm Kiefer, Victor Hugo, Yves Klein, and Lucio Fontana, to name a few. Their works highlight astronomy, the cosmos and the vast universe, often putting forward the influences, techniques, phenomena, and belief, social, and scientific climates that persisted the 19th century in terms of literature and science.

 

Take Anselm Kiefer’s The Secret Life of Plants (2004), where a white vortex is spiraling around a black void and a golden stem with golden withering tiny leaves is placed in the center. It is the sibling of his sculptural book of the same name, where the pages made of lead are dotted with specks of white paint in an attempt to paint the spectrum and ancient concept of the universe. Anish Kapoor’s Untitled (Sans titre), 2014, makes an appearance too, a see-through glass-like box that seems to mimic the supernova in a series of consecutive small acrylic explosions. Flecks of their remnants begin to spread out, halted and frozen right in the center of the glass case.

 

Just like Vincent van Gogh, these artists explore the night, the universe, the stars, the constellations, the cosmos, and beyond in their own ways, with their own flair, their signature styles circling back to the Dutch painter’s own well of influences. The literary works by Victor Hugo and Jules Verne on astronomy grace the exhibition, and painters such as Jean-François Millet, Camille Corot, and James McNeill Whistler’s artworks showcased their understanding of the effects of the night, the clear light of the stars, and knowledge of the cosmos.

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night, Arles, 1888 Oil on canvas, 73 × 92 cm | donation subject to usufruct Mr and Mrs Robert Kahn-Sriber, in memory of Mr and Mrs Fernand Moch, 1975 | image © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

 

 

Vincent van Gogh imagined the stars as ‘the refuge of the dead’

 

The writings of astronomer Camille Flammarion, which back in the day sold in hundreds of thousands of copies, are on display, make their way into the exhibition, defining the time that led up to the creation of Vincent van Gogh’s night scenes. Visitors can also see that some of the contemporary artworks underline the hypotheses roaming around about science fiction and metaphysics, as well as related discoveries that magazines covered in the past. 

 

Then, artists, intellectuals, and writers after Vincent van Gogh were gifted resources to expand the alleyways towards understanding and learning more about his nocturnal works, and Van Gogh and the Stars expound some of the research that fascinated the public during this time, including the work of great scientific illustrators such as Étienne Léopold Trouvelot and Lord Ross’s drawings of spiral galaxies, which resemble those of the Dutch painter’s works.

 

In a letter to his brother Theo in July 1888, Vincent van Gogh imagined the stars as ‘the refuge of the dead’, a stark observation from his examination of the stars. Night after night, he studied them by the precise arrangement of the constellations in his paintings, backed by his beliefs, which also appeared in para-scientific literature from the mid-nineteenth century. The way he saw the stars also influenced his contemporaries, such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Odilon Redon, James Ensor, Wenzel Hablik, and Constantin Ciurlionis.

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
The Starry Night, Arles, 1888 Oil on canvas, 73 × 92 cm | donation subject to usufruct Mr and Mrs Robert Kahn-Sri – ber, in memory of Mr and Mrs Fernand Moch, 1975, image courtesy of Musée d’Orsay, Paris | on the left: Wenzel Hablik, Sternenhimmel (Ciel étoilé) / (Starry sky), 1909 Huile sur toile / oil on canvas, 200 × 200 cm, image courtesy of Wenzel Hablik Museum, Itzehoe | to the right : František Kupka, The First Step (Le Premier pas), vers 1910-1913 / ca. 1910-1913 Huile sur toile / oil on canvas, 83,2 × 129,6 cm, image courtesy of Fonds Hillman Periodicals Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

 

 

In contemporary art, the fascination with the night continues, taking on different forms, as seen in the works by Tony Cragg, Alicja Kwade, Anselm Kiefer, Mariko Mori, Gillian Brett, Alfred Smith, Dove Allouche, Yves Klein, Lee Bontecou. Despite its stillness and seeming emptiness, the night sky reveals color and movement, thanks to urban lighting. The resulting glow and reflections illuminate the famous view of the Rhône, bringing it into plain sight, evident now in Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles’ exhibition ‘Van Gogh and The Stars’ and the Starry Night painting.

 

The influence of this nocturnal scene has graced the works of Edvard Munch, Augusto Giacometti, Robert Delaunay, František Kupka, Kasimir Malevitch, Georgia O’Keeffe, Helen Frankenthaler and other major figures who are featured in the exhibition.  Other artists who are part of Van Gogh and the Stars journey to the stars, once again explored with the return of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhône to Arles, to the banks of the river that inspired it. From June 1st to August 25th, 2024, Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting remains in Arles for public viewing, while the Van Gogh and the Stars exhibition runs between June 1st and September 8th, 2024.

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
exhibition view of Van Gogh and the Stars, in Arles

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
Kasimir Cosmic Magnetic Construction , 1916 Oil on canvas, 104 × 59.5 cm, private collection | to the left : Alicja Kwade Superheavy Skies, 2022 Mirror polished stainless steel, stones, motor, 259.7 × 198.3 × 283.9 cm, image courtesy of the artist and Mennour, Paris

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
view of the exhibition, with the works by (from left to rigth): Mariko Mori, Meret Oppenheim | Mariko Mori, Miracle (I-VIII) , 2001 Eight Cibachrome prints, dichroic glass, salt, and crystals, 69.2 cm diameter each | Meret Oppenheim, New Stars , 1977–1982 Oil on canvas, 205 × 248 cm, image courtesy of Kunstmuseum Berne

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
view of the exhibition, with the works by (from left to right): Mariko Mori, Meret Oppenheim | Mariko Mori, Miracle (I-VIII) , 2001 Eight Cibachrome prints, dichroic glass, salt, and crystals, 69.2 cm diameter each | Meret Oppenheim, New Stars , 1977–1982 Oil on canvas, 205 × 248 cm, image courtesy of Kunstmuseum Berne

vincent-van-gogh-starry-night-over-rhône-arles-exhibition-stars-designboom-ban3

from left to right: Dove Allouche, Sunflowers_11 , 2016, pure silver and tin base on unexposed Cibachrome paper mounted on alumi – nium, 180 × 126 cm | Dove Allouche Sunflowers_39 , 2017-2018, pure silver and tin base on unexposed Cibachrome paper mounted on aluminium, 180 × 126 cm | Dove Allouche 6 million kelvin flaring regions N°5, 2016, graphite, ink on paper and hand-blown glass, 85 × 65 cm | Dove Allouche 6 million kelvin flaring regions N°6, 2016, graphite, ink on paper and hand-blown glass, 85 × 65 cm | images courtesy of the artist and Peter Freeman, Inc. New York / Paris

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
image © designboom | Anish Kapoor, Untitled (Sans titre), 2014, acrylic, courtesy of Anish Kapoor and Mennour, Paris

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
image © designboom | Anselm Kiefer, For Renata, The Secret Life of Plants, 2001, plants and graphite on bound photographic prints, private collection

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
image © designboom | Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale (Concept spatial / Spatial Concept), 1965, water-based paint and holes on canvas, courtesy of Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan

vincent van gogh starry night arles exhibition
image © designboom | Alicja Kwade, Superheavy Skies (Cieux extrêmement lourds), 2022, mirror polished stainless steel, stones and motor, courtesy of Alicja Kwade and Mennour, Paris

vincent-van-gogh-starry-night-over-rhône-arles-exhibition-stars-designboom-ban

Camille Corot, L’Étoile du Berger (Evening star, morning star), 1864 Oil on canvas, 130 × 163 cm Musée des Augustins, Toulouse | image courtesy of Mairie de Toulouse, Musée des Augustins | photo by Daniel Martin

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Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Tuonelan matkalla (On the way to Tuonela), 1888-1894 Oil on canvas, 138,5 × 39,5 cm, courtesy of Fondation Gösta Serlachius, Mäntta | photo by Hannu Miettinen
Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Tuonelan matkalla (On the way to Tuonela), 1888-1894 Oil on canvas, 138,5 × 39,5 cm, courtesy of Fondation Gösta Serlachius, Mäntta | photo by Hannu Miettinen
Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles presents its exhibition ‘Van Gogh And The Stars’
Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles presents its exhibition ‘Van Gogh And The Stars’
Paul Mignard, Prémonition (Premonition), 2024 Pigments on canvas, 209 × 136 cm Galerie Poggi, Paris
Paul Mignard, Prémonition (Premonition), 2024 Pigments on canvas, 209 × 136 cm Galerie Poggi, Paris
Frederic Watts, The Sower of the System, 1902 Oil on canvas, 66 × 53,3 cm Watts Gallery Trust, image © Watts Gallery Trust
Frederic Watts, The Sower of the System, 1902 Oil on canvas, 66 × 53,3 cm Watts Gallery Trust, image © Watts Gallery Trust
Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles presents its exhibition ‘Van Gogh And The Stars’
Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles presents its exhibition ‘Van Gogh And The Stars’
Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles presents its exhibition ‘Van Gogh And The Stars’
Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles presents its exhibition ‘Van Gogh And The Stars’
Wenzel Hablik, Sternenhimmel (Starry Sky), 1909 Oil on canvas, 200 × 200 cm | image courtesy of Wenzel Hablik Museum, Itzehoe
Wenzel Hablik, Sternenhimmel (Starry Sky), 1909 Oil on canvas, 200 × 200 cm | image courtesy of Wenzel Hablik Museum, Itzehoe
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Mikalojus Konstantinas, ČIURLIONIS Rex , 1909 Tempera on canvas, 147,1 × 133,7 cm | image courtesy of M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Kaunas
Mikalojus Konstantinas, ČIURLIONIS Rex , 1909 Tempera on canvas, 147,1 × 133,7 cm | image courtesy of M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Kaunas
Léon Spilliaert, Quai d'Ostende sous la pluie (Ostend quay in the rain), 1924 Oil on canvas, 75 × 100 cm Maître Binoche Collection | photo by Adrien Thibault
Léon Spilliaert, Quai d'Ostende sous la pluie (Ostend quay in the rain), 1924 Oil on canvas, 75 × 100 cm Maître Binoche Collection | photo by Adrien Thibault
Augusto Giacometti, Sternenhimmel (Milchstrasse) Starry night, 1917 Oil on canvas, diameter 86 cm | image courtesy of Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur, Thomas Strub
Augusto Giacometti, Sternenhimmel (Milchstrasse) Starry night, 1917 Oil on canvas, diameter 86 cm | image courtesy of Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur, Thomas Strub
Georgia O’keeffe, Starlight Night, Lake George , 1922 Huile sur toile, 40,6 × 60,9 cm, Private collection
Georgia O’keeffe, Starlight Night, Lake George , 1922 Huile sur toile, 40,6 × 60,9 cm, Private collection
Helen Frankenthaler, Star Gazing, 1989 Acrylic on canvas, 181,6 × 365, 8 cm | image © 2024 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / © ADAGP, Paris, 2024
Helen Frankenthaler, Star Gazing, 1989 Acrylic on canvas, 181,6 × 365, 8 cm | image © 2024 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / © ADAGP, Paris, 2024

project info:

 

artist: Vincent van Gogh

exhibition Name: Van Gogh and The Stars

museum: Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles

location: 35 terrue du Docteur-Fanton, 13200 Arles

dates: June 1st and September 8th, 2024

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