Van Gogh. Self-Portraits
Tilborgh, Louis van
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From the publisher
The myth of Van Gogh today is linked as much to his extraordinary life as it is to his stunning paintings. His biography has often shaped the way that his self-portraits have been (mis)understood. Van Gogh. Self-Portraits reconsiders this aspect of his production and places the artist's self-representation in context to reveal the role it plays in his oeuvre. It also explores the power and profound emotion of these highly personal paintings. Van Gogh. Self-Portraits is the first time this theme has been exclusively addressed. Self-portraits painted during Van Gogh's time in Paris (February 1886 - February 1888) have been the subject of two exhibitions (in 1960 at Marlborough Fine Arts in London and in 1995 at the Kunsthalle in Hamburg) but never has the full chronological range been explored. The exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, which this volume accompanies, features paintings from both the Parisian and Provencal periods. It brings together half of Van Gogh's thirty-five known self-portraits to examine the ways the artist approached this particular subject-matter. On a practical level, painting himself provided Van Gogh with the cheapest and most patient of models and represented an important conduit for stylistic experimentation. He also used self-portraiture as an homage to his illustrious Dutch predecessor Rembrandt, as well as a way of fashioning his own identity and presenting himself to the outside world. Of particular interest is the striking way the evolution of Van Gogh's self-representation over the short years of his artistic activity can be seen as a microcosm of his development as a painter. In addition to the world-famous Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear in The Courtauld's collection, the exhibition showcases a group of major masterpieces brought together from international collections, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Muse d'Orsay in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others. This beautifully illustrated catalogue includes detailed entries on each work, an appendix illustrating all of Van Gogh's self-portraits and three insightful essays on the theme.