Van Gogh: New Research and Perspectives

This online publication contains new research and interpretative information that have emerged since the release of the catalogue Van Gogh Repetitions (Yale University Press, 2013), published in association with the exhibition of the same title. Co-organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art and The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, the exhibition presents new insights into the art of Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) through a study of his répétitions—the term the artist used to describe his process of producing multiple versions of his own compositions. Challenging the popular caricature of Van Gogh as an artist who always painted directly from nature in a flash of heated emotion, the exhibition and its associated publications explore the other side of the artist’s genius: his thoughtful, controlled, deliberative approach to producing repetitions. A crucial component of the project was the extensive use of laboratory analysis to study differences between the works Van Gogh painted directly before the motif, called études d’après nature (studies after nature), and his repetitions produced in the studio.

Research for the exhibition was conducted by two teams of curators and conservators who spent years studying how Van Gogh produced his repetitions and how his theoretical understanding of the practice evolved over time. The project’s first phase is documented in the exhibition’s richly illustrated catalogue. This online publication serves as a supplement to the catalogue, offering new research and perspectives that have emerged since the book’s printing. The essays presented here extend the discussions of the catalogue by exploring a broad array of additional topics, including the relationship between repetitions and forgeries, the production of repetitions based on memory and imagination, and new analysis of Van Gogh’s printmaking techniques. This supplement to the catalogue also includes a chronology of the artist’s life and a glossary of technical terms describing the analytical methods conservators use to study his art.

For their assistance and contributions to the production of this publication, the authors gratefully acknowledge Moyna Stanton, Conservator of Paper; Lucy I. Zimmerman, Curatorial Research Assistant; June De Phillips, Curatorial Assistant; Sarah Otto, Exhibitions Specialist; Jane Takac Panza, Editor; Thomas H. Barnard III, Senior Graphic Designer; and Rachel Beamer, Image Acquisitions and Permissions Coordinator.