Monday, October 15, 2007

Portland Art Museum Receives Gift of van Gogh Painting

Portland Art Museum Receives Gift of van Gogh Painting

After four generations in a private collection, this masterpiece will be on public view.

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 – 1890), The Ox-Cart, (Charrette de boeuf), 1884, oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 31 1/2 inches (56 x 81 cm), Gift of Fred and Frances Sohn.

The Portland Art Museum received a major gift of an original canvas by Vincent van Gogh, The Ox-Cart (Charrette de boeuf). For nearly 50 years, this painting has resided with a family in Roseburg, Oregon.

"This is a defining moment in the history of the Portland Art Museum," said Brian Ferriso, the Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr. Director. "It is the ultimate philanthropic gesture when individuals choose to donate a priceless work of art to a public institution so that future generations can experience it. This is truly a gift to our children and the many generations to follow."

Fred and Frances Sohn are giving the painting to the Museum for the benefit of future generations. The Sohns have been Oregon residents since 1949 when they moved to Roseburg where Fred built a successful lumber business. The Sohn’s five sons and their families, including nine grandchildren, have grown up around the painting.

"Four generations of our family have had much pleasure from this painting. It seems to be a painting everybody likes, whether or not they know of the famous painter," said Fred Sohn. "The intimate experience of art in our home helped our children and grandchildren learn to appreciate good art. It is now time for a wider audience to enjoy and learn from this special painting."

Painted in Nuenen, The Netherlands, early in van Gogh’s career, The Ox-Cart (1884) is part of his exploration of peasant life, which included dozens of studies of peasants, farm work, and the rural landscape. Van Gogh had returned to his father’s home in Nuenen, after he had failed at the clergy and given away all of his possessions. He rented studio space from the local church and seriously pursued his career as an artist.

Intrigued by the work of Rembrandt, the great Dutch genre traditions, and Millet, van Gogh’s paintings from Nuenen show his deep identification with the simple, yet difficult life of peasants eking out a humble existence on the land. This exploration of the dank and dark landscape is a sharp contrast to his later work produced in southern France where he was inspired by the bright colors of the region and the work of fellow artists Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin.

Van Gogh’s visual expression of emotions through color and the physicality of the brushstrokes redefined art making practices and have influenced generations of artists. The Ox-Cart represents a critical step in his artistic journey, and helped to set the stage for his seminal painting, The Potato Eaters of 1885 and for his later work produced in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise.

Van Gogh produced two versions of The Ox-Cart, one with a black ox and the other with a red ox. (Ref: Letter to Theo #373). The second version with a red ox is part of the Rijksmuseum’s Kröller-Müller Foundation collection, and The Ox-Cart (featuring the black ox) will now be a permanent part of the Portland Art Museum’s collection and will be on display on the first floor of the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art in conjunction with the Museum’s Impressionist and School of Paris early modernist works.

This painting by van Gogh, creates a strong visual connection with the Museum’s Cezanne painting from 1872, Paris: Quai de Bercy – La Halle aux Vins (Paris: Bercy Quay – The Wine Depot), and the birthing of modernism through the artist’s experimentation with the combination of color, paint, and simplification of form. These works, in combination, give viewers the first sense of the psychological below the reference of image, and suggest the synthesis of structure and materials that is a modern picture. This is the first work by van Gogh to enter the Museum’s collection.

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous artists of modern times, and among a handful of artists, such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Rembrandt, who have achieved universal recognition across cultures and time. Although van Gogh’s career was short, he has influenced and inspired artists as diverse as Max Beckmann, Chaim Soutine, Marsden Hartley, Henk Pander, and Robert Colescott, all of whom are represented in the Museum’s collection.

"Art, as one of the ultimate expressions of our human experience, is an inspiration for us all," said Ferriso. "The addition of this original, simple painting by van Gogh to the collection will give our visitors the opportunity to study and reflect on the genius of van Gogh. It will surprise and delight our citizens. The Museum is grateful to the Sohn family for their generous gift and this model gesture of civitas."

In mid-November, this treasure will go on public display on the first floor of the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art.


scott davidson said...

Some pretty designs alright. Doing the painting yourselves is more fun but a good place for ideas for more design is this site of, that I use to help with my wall decorations.
You can browse for a painting like this The tree, by 20th century Czech artist, Frantisek Kupka, for example, , that can be ordered on line and delivered to you.

scott davidson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.