Van Gogh & Japan

Van Gogh & Japan


November 30, 2019

2:00 PM-3:30 PM


225 South St
Williamstown, MA 01267

Exhibition on Screen presents the film Van Gogh & Japan.

“I envy the Japanese,” Vincent van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother Theo. In the exhibition on which this film is based, Van Gogh & Japan at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, one can see why. Though Van Gogh never visited Japan, it is the country that had the most profound influence on him and his art. One cannot understand Van Gogh without understanding how Japanese art arrived in Paris in the middle of the nineteenth century and the profound impact it had on artists like Monet, Degas, and, above all, Van Gogh.

Visiting the new galleries of Japanese art in Paris and then creating his own image of Japan—through in-depth research, print collecting, and detailed discussions with other artists—Van Gogh’s encounter with Japanese artworks gave his work a new and exciting direction. After he left Paris for the south of France to what he thought of as near to a kind of Japan as he could find, the productive and yet troubled years that followed must all be seen in the context of Van Gogh bending Japanese influences to his will and defining himself as a modern artist with clear Asian precursors. This little-known story of Van Gogh’s art reveals just how important his study of Japan was. The film travels not only to France and the Netherlands but also to Japan to further explore the remarkable heritage that so affected Van Gogh and made him the artist the world knows today.

Run time: 85 minutes. All ticket sales are nonrefundable. 

Image: Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), Pere Tanguy (Father Tanguy) (detail), 1887–88. Oil on canvas. Musée Rodin, Paris, France / Peter Willi / Bridgeman Images