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Van Gogh and Britain review

Art Tate Britain , Millbank Until Sunday August 11 2019
3 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
Van Gogh and Britain review
© RMN

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

This show is great if you want to see a bunch of artists rip off Vincent Van Gogh. If you’re hoping to be immersed in Vince’s swirling night visions or undulating sunflowers and landscapes, you’ll get a bit of it, but only a nibble. The main gist of the show is to look at the British artists that influenced young Vinnie, and the British artists who in turn took inspiration from him.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some stunning Van Gogh works here, enough to give you an idea of his self-taught progression. Early drawings are grim monochrome depictions of morose old men and crestfallen women. Without the colour, you’re left with pure misery. Then you get hit with a spinning whirlpool of prisoners in a yard, swirling with dark blues and yellows. Then there’s the iconic 'Starry Night', followed by a grey and pale yellow tree that fizzes and effervesces with colour, a ripped pair of dirty boots and a handful of self-portraits.

When an artist has been as overexposed as Van Gogh, when their work has entered the public consciousness so fully that they become part of the cultural fabric of our everyday lives, when their images become t-shirts and movies and posters, you’re allowed to feel fatigued, cynical, bored. But even the grumpiest, dourest cynic (hi!) will have moments of heart stopping amazement when faced with some of these paintings.

But they’re not the real focus of this exhibition; you could fit all the Van Gogh originals in two rooms, really. Instead, most of the work here is stuff related in some way to Vincent. There are big glum Millais and Constable works filled with grey skies and long lonely paths that influenced him, and there are a bunch of paintings by British artists who loved him. Some are brilliant – the Francis Bacon works are staggering, and some of the Samuel Peploe images are lovely – but I’ll bet most people aren’t paying to see David Bomberg, Christopher Wood or Spencer Gore pay homage. They’re here for big Vince, and they’re not going to get much.

There’s nothing wrong with an exhibition about the influence Van Gogh had on artists, but it makes for an interesting show, rather than a brilliant one.

Details

Address: Millbank
London
SW1P 4RG
Transport: Tube: Pimlico/Vauxhall
Contact:
Opening hours: Daily 10am-6pm (last admission for special exhibitions 5.15pm)

Dates And Times

Users say (1)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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LiveReviews|1
2 people listening

Sounds like Eddy Frankel expected to take a quick walk through the sunflower fields. I went to the exhibition with an open mind and must say I'd give 5 stars for the interesting perspective or narrative of the exhibition, also van Gogh's sketches are striking in spite of the 'misery' which the artist focused on. I think everyone can take something away from this exhibition as long as he or she doesn't consume art, but rather reflects on it. 

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