Vincent Van Gogh / Antonin Artaud. Le Suicidé de la société

  • Art
  • Drawing and illustration
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Vincent Van Gogh, 'Portrait de l’artiste', Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, septembre 1889 / © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
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Man Ray, 'Antonin Artaud', 1926 / © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jacques Faujour / © Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, Paris 2014
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Vincent Van Gogh, 'La Nuit étoilée', Arles, septembre 1888 / © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
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Antonin Artaud, 'Le théâtre de la cruauté', vers mars 1946 / © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jacques Faujour / © ADAGP, Paris 2014
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Vincent Van Gogh, 'La Chambre de Van Gogh à Arles', Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, septembre 1889 / © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
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Vincent Van Gogh, 'Portrait de l’artiste', Paris, automne 1887 / © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Gérard Blot
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Vincent Van Gogh, 'Fritillaires couronne impériale dans un vase de cuivre', Paris, vers avril-mai 1887 / © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
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Vincent Van Gogh, 'L’Église d’Auvers-sur-Oise, vue du chevet', juin 1890 / © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
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© Kröller-Müller Museum
Vincent Van Gogh, 'Route de campagne en Provence de nuit'
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Vincent van Gogh, 'Route de campagne en Provence de nuit', Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, mai 1890 / © Kröller-Müller Museum

In 1947, in ‘Le Suicide de la Société’, Antonin Artaud wrote an impassioned homage to the genius of Van Gogh, offering a reading that went against the dominant discourse of his day. Weary of simplistic theories about the madness and deliriums of the Dutch master, the writer offered a portrait of a painter whose clear-sightedness was too much for the common man. Exit the thesis of alienation and the medicines prescribed by doctor Gachet: for Artaud, it was the impoverished spirit of late 19th century society, and not the famed psychological imbalance, that pushed the painter to suicide. This rich text well deserves an exhibition: the Musée d’Orsay undertakes the task through drawings, letters and 30 or so paintings.

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