From the Archives

Van Gogh and Expressionism

Van Gogh and Expressionism

Maurice Tuchman
Published in 1964
44 pages, fully illustrated

Following the same structure as the previous year’s exhibition, Cézanne and Structure in Modern Painting, the 1964 exhibition Van Gogh and Expressionism was an attempt to illustrate Vincent Van Gogh’s influence on subsequent art movements, such as Abstract Expressionism. In lieu of discussing which artists exerted an influence on Van Gogh, curator Maurice Tuchman discusses how Van Gogh was a model for the modern Expressionists of the 21st century. In separate essays, Tuchman describes each artist’s form of Expressionism, how they have learned from Van Gogh, and developed their own unique Expressionist style. In addition to Van Gogh, the following artists are discussed: Edvard Munch, Georges Rouault, Vasily Kandinsky, Oskar Kokoschka, Emil Nolde, Chaim Soutine, and Willem de Kooning. Selected works representing each artist are also included in the catalogue, all of which are illustrated in color.


"My great longing is to learn to make incorrectness . . . more true than the original truth," wrote Vincent Van Gogh. In his first masterpiece, The Potato Eaters, Van Gogh strove to convey the clumsy honesty and naïve strength of peasantry by rude and frankly unsophisticated means. Figures were awkwardly placed or obscured, their anatomies deformed, their gestures exaggerated. Not unexpectedly, he was denounced for these distortions of natural form. "Dare you," exclaimed his friend, the painter Van Rappard, "working in such a manner, invoke the names of [the peasant painters] Millet and Breton? Come! Art stands in my opinion too high to be treated so carelessly." Van Gogh responded, "I want to paint what I feel and feel what I paint"—without regard, he added, to what "civilized" people might think or say.

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