Van Gogh & Brexit – 12/03/19

Vincent Van Gogh is a name that almost everyone has heard of. The popularity of Van Gogh’s life story and his work mean that the exhibition of his work at the Tate Britain is one you cannot miss.

The Van Gogh exhibition that will be held at the Tate Britain will open later this month running from 27 March – 11 August, giving everybody an opportunity to go and see the famous pieces of art.  It is labelled a must-see display. Famously, another exhibition of Van Gogh’s work in 1947 was so popular that the floor of the exhibition was damaged.

The much-loved Sunflowers (1888) will be among the 45 pieces displayed within the Van Gogh and Britain show. This show is the first of its kind to explore how crucial Van Gogh’s time in London during 1873 and 1876 was to the production of his art.  Other iconic pieces of work that will be on show are Starry Night Over The Rhone (1888) and Shoes (1886). Van Gogh decided to become an artist at the age of 27 and committed suicide at the age of 37.  During his life, Van Gogh created 850 paintings and over 1,300 works on paper. The sheer amount of art Van Gogh produced during his short life means that his legacy will continue for years to come.

Lead curator Carol Jacobi said the artist was an “economic migrant”, who came to London as a trainee art dealer and became inspired by the modern and busy city he found when residing in the United Kingdom. The director of Tate Britain Alex Farquharson has remarked that “He [Van Gogh] is perennially important as is the story of migration on British art… [the exhibition] is both timeless and timely.” The exhibition is a way to educate the public on Van Gogh as an artist, his struggles and his relationship to his artwork.

Whilst the exhibition should be seen as a celebration of Van Gogh’s creativity and passion, this celebration can also be seen as ironic. Van Gogh was a Dutch immigrant residing in London in order to pursue a better life and build upon his skills. Now, his work is being displayed in one of Britain’s most prestigious art galleries, on the week that Brexit is supposed to be invoked. The United Kingdom is set to have left the European Union by the end of March this year, the current political climate can be seen to make the Van Gogh exhibition ironic; the work of a European migrant is being celebrated whilst some migrants residing in the United Kingdom are facing a range of abuse and discrimination.

We cannot ignore that Britain takes influences from other countries culture. Britain is a jigsaw piece of European culture that cannot be ignored. Especially in regard to the UK’s attitude’s to Europe currently, it is interesting to see that our relationship with Europe and the EU is dependent on what we can gain. The exhibition will make a hefty profit for the Tate Britain charging £22 for entry into the exhibit, as well as being good publicity for the museum.

Although the exhibition is ironic, it is good that Van Gogh’s work in now being appreciated to the fullest extent. The exhibition has a focus on Van Gogh’s relationship with Britain, how he was inspired living in urban London.



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