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Indepth Arts News:

"Vincent van Gogh and the Painters of the Petit Boulevard"
2001-02-17 until 2001-05-13
Saint Louis Art Museum
St. Louis, MO, USA

The Saint Louis Art Museum's exhibition, Vincent van Gogh and the Painters of the Petit Boulevard, features ca. 70 paintings and works on paper by Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries, Charles Angrand, Louis Anquetin, Emile Bernard, Paul Gauguin, Camille and Lucien Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The show takes a new look at Van Gogh's interaction with these artists, all of whom were associated with the various avant-garde movements in Paris in the late 1880s.

Van Gogh actively participated in discussing and debating new ideas, which ultimately became the shape and substance of modern art in Europe. He identified these artists as the painters of the petit boulevard, a term that reflected their desire to distinguish themselves from the more established Impressionists, the painters of the grand boulevard.

This exhibition presents Van Gogh's contacts with artists who are very well known, such as Gauguin or Toulouse-Lautrec, but also presents his interaction with painters such as Anquetin or Bernard, who were important figures at the time, but whose works are less known by the public today. Some of the works in the exhibition have rarely or never before been seen in the United States and are being juxtaposed with some of the most famous paintings of the late 19th century.

Moving freely between the avant-garde camps, Van Gogh related as easily to Signac and the followers of Neo-Impressionism as to Bernard and Gauguin, who refused to have anything to do with the Neo-Impressionists. In 1887 he organized an exhibition of Japanese prints that influenced the work of several of his colleagues in Paris, then organized a show of innovative paintings by the painters of the petit boulevard. After he moved to the south of France in early 1888, Van Gogh maintained contact with his Parisian friends through correspondence and exchange of works of art.

The exhibition is organized around four themes that reflect these artists' interest and ambitions: the urban landscape of Paris; entertainment and nightlife; portraiture; and landscape. The first two of these topics concentrate on the experience of the city; the other two -- portraiture and landscape -- are pervasive themes throughout the artists' careers and become especially apparent when the artists leave the city, Seurat for the coasts of Normandy, Gauguin and Bernard for Brittany, and Van Gogh for Arles.

Vincent van Gogh,
Stairway at Auvers, July 1890,
oil on canvas,
20 x 28 inches,
The Saint Louis Art Museum,
Purchase, 1:1935

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