Van Gogh and Britain – Tate Britain, London – ART 2019

Van Gogh and Britain – Tate Britain, London

Excited at the prospect of Van Gogh and Britain, I made a bee line for it in April 2019. After last year’s visit to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, I still had an appetite for some more of Vincenzo’s work. There’s good news and bad news though.

The good news is that there are several works in this exhibition that I’ve never seen before. As a result, they provided me with a truly enhanced experience that will live on long in the memory. My only real drip about this extravaganza was that it was too crowded. Combined with the modern day phenomena of people taking selfies and pushing in front of me whilst viewing “Starry Night”, it left a bad taste in my mouth. For the uninitiated, the following symbol means No Photography.

Van Gogh and Britain

No Phots Please!

My view on this is that it isn’t possible to really view art via your iPhone. You have a wonderful natural mechanism which links the eyes and the brain to view art. If you have a butcher’s at the following article, you will see what I mean. If you need to view the pictures afterwards, buy the exhibition catalogue!

One of the works that really moves me is Starry Night. I’ve seen this before, but the effect is always the same. Magical. You can always hear Don McLean in your head when you view it. You can see it via the Exhibition details link at the bottom of this post. But to see it close up (even with a 1001 iPhones in your way), it is still one of the great works of art of all time.

Hospital at St. Remy – October 1889

This is a truly magical painting, I gazed for a long time at this splendid work. The branches emit a real presence and almost seem to envelop you. Painted the year before he died, it is hard to believe that he only ever (purportedly) only sold one painting during his lifetime. Such is his great tragedy. An unrecognised genius whilst alive. What would he think if he knew of his influence down the years. Surely he would marvel at the prices his works now command?

Bright Colours

The yellow of the hospital walls is reminiscent of another of Van G’s works, namely “The Yellow House”. You can almost sense the sun reflecting off of it. The lush tones of the sky seem to melt into the branches and leaves of the trees, and produce a slightly soporific effect. Calming, yet slightly sinister. Their perspective is slightly skewed. Seeing as this painting was painted after several weeks of illness, it’s possible to see why.
I love the rich quality of his palette here. You feel as if the trees are being sucked skyward by an imaginary force. I need to see this painting again. Luckily, I am a member of the Tate, so I can go again. I’ll try to find a quieter time to visit though. 

Other Artists @ Van Gogh and Britain

Another aspect of this exhibition is the variety of works by other artists. All of whom were influenced somehow by Vincent. But, three works that I had never seen before were by Francis Bacon. Another huge hero of mine. Always dark, always frightening. In “Study for Portrait of Van Gogh IV” below, we see Bacon’s homage to one of his own heroes. Tate’s accompanying text will give you an insight into Bacon’s thought processes. 

Van Gogh and Britain

Study for Portrait of Van Gogh IV – Francis Bacon, 1957 | Tate


Not only Back though, many other artists are represented here, which is no bad thing. Seeing as Van Gogh never painted a single thing whilst here was living in Britain, this is probably why they are. I was particularly impressed by Spencer Gore’s work “The Fig Tree” below. As the Tate says, there is a certain nod to Monet’s colours and almost pastel like qualities.

To sum up, I’ll probably visit again in the Summer, hopefully at a slightly less busy time and then I’ll be able to practice a little bit of “Slow Art”. Here’s hoping.

?The Fig Tree?, Spencer Gore, c.1912 | Tate


London SW1P 4RG
Until 11th August 2019

Exhibition Details


Any thoughts?

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