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Bice Curiger, Director Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles

How is Vincent van Gogh’s legacy upheld within your exhibitions programs?

Bice Curiger; “I know some people think, “how boring it must be to run a museum dedicated to a single artist. And even more so, one dedicated to an artist thoroughly battered by mass cultured succes like Van Gogh”. But is quite the opposite. I assure you, todays artists, the ones with whom we collaborate offer unexpected insights that sharpen our view of the past.

The exhibition program follows a confrontational and expansive principal in presenting on one hand large monographic shows like the ones with more historic and even unfamiliar figures like the painter Alice Neel or Georgian so-called primitivist Niko Pirosmani, or the photographer Roberto Donetta.

Alice Neel.                                                          Niko Pirosmani

It has been particularly encouraging and an important sign that these exhibitions have appealed to a wide and enthusiastic public. Like Van Gogh, these three artists embrace a direct visual language and a distinctly humanist outlook.

Our main concern is:  “Is it possible to free Van Gogh again and again, even if only for a moment, from the cliché’s established over the past decades and to consciously illuminate and dismantle them from the distance of our own day and through the neighbouring presence of contemporary art?”

Working with artists, such as Thomas Hirschorn, Roni Horn, Camille Henrot, Urs Fischer, Yan Pei-Ming, Elisabeth Peyton, Glenn Brown, among others, we have been lucky to see how enthusiastic they have responded to our invitation to exhibit in the context of an institution dedicated to Van Gogh’s legacy.

We have been guided by the idea of cinematic montage, in juxtaposing what is generally shown separately, namely contemporary art on one side, and Van Gogh on the other and in our constant referencing Vincents works is life and significance in the collective imagination.

Vincent van Gogh, Moisson en Provence         Glenn Brown

We especially have developed also many thematic exhibitions, like for instance in 2018 a show called ‘Hot Sun, Late Sun: Modernism Untamed‘, which brought together artists from Van Gogh, Adolphe Monticelli, Pablo Picasso, Germaine Richier, Alexander Calder, Joan Mitchell, Sigmar Polke, Etel Adnan up to even the jazz musician Sun Ra and his orchestra. And the subtext was also the relation to the mediterranean culture, and a moment of Moderism hitting the mediterranean area”.

Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles, 35 ter, rue du Docteur Fanton – 13200 Arles, France



see our interview with Bice Curiger here: Part I  and  Part II

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