It’s hard to believe that there could be anything fresh to be said about Vincent van Gogh—that is, anything fresh to be said about his work. As we know from a plethora of biographical novels and movies, some of them potboilers, as well as scholarly texts, some quite recent, the facts of his brief, troubled life can be endlessly probed and reinterpreted, but van Gogh’s paintings are another matter. Even if we concentrate on serious curatorial efforts and resist the temptation to observe, cynically, that any exhibition with that instantly recognizable, if hard to pronounce, name in the title is guaranteed to boost museum attendance, the list of shows examining his art is so long and the subjects of those shows so varied that we might be forgiven for thinking that the field must have long been exhausted. Van Gogh’s working life as an artist, after all, was only about a decade long. Born in 1853, a suicide in 1890, he didn’t begin to...


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