Hittin’ The Town at a major Detroit exhibition with Toledo ties

The Van Gogh in America exhibit includes two works from the Toledo Museum of Art.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 7:13 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - He’s one of the world’s most celebrated artists and there is an incredible collection of his work on display in Detroit. Van Gogh in America is at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the exhibition includes paintings from the Toledo Museum of Art.

The exhibition brings to life the story of a man who became one of the most influential artists in the world, decades after his death.

“It is hard to imagine a time when Americans didn’t know the name Vincent van Gogh, this tells the tale of him going from relative obscurity to a superstar,” said Jill Shaw, curator of the exhibition. “It’s absolutely what a curator dreams of. I’ve spent six years working on it.”

During that time, Shaw and her team assembled a spectacular collection of his life’s work.

“He’s a post-impressionist, and while he had influences, he really developed his own style,” said Shaw.

Everywhere you turn, there is beauty.

“One of the best parts of the response to this show is people going into galleries and saying that’s a Van Gogh? I didn’t know he worked like that,” said Shaw.

Shaw says some of the artwork has never been exhibited together before and never will be again.

“It is an incredible showing of his work,” said Shaw. “We have 74 original works from him from 60 plus institutions and private collectors from around the world. We worked hard to get each one of them.”

Two of the paintings are from the Toledo Museum of Art.

“The loan from Toledo is critical to the room that is my favorite and a fan favorite,” said Shaw. “We call it the ‘Midwest takes the lead’ room.”

The Toledo Museum of Art has early ties to the painter. It was among the first American museums to purchase a work by van Gogh.

“He was prolific in the last couple months of his life and both of the Toledo works are from that period,” said Shaw. “So the first is with Wheat Field with Reaper, Auvers and the second is Houses at Auvers. Both are depictions of his surroundings in the town where he lived his last days.”

A century ago, the Detroit Institute of Arts became the very first American museum to purchase a work of van Gogh. So how fitting that where it all began in America is where you can see this incredible collection.

“We may know a lot about his struggles and mental crisis, but he was an incredibly talented artist, and I hope people leave the show understanding he is more than a Hollywood myth,” said Shaw.

In addition to being able to see dozens of van Gogh paintings, you can also sample the cuisine at this pop-up café inspired by some of the places he called home. Carina Lampkin is the Executive Chef at the DIA.

“Really the most important thing is the vibe, we created the vibe to celebrate who van Gogh was,” said Lampkin.

Lampkin spent months researching van Gogh and food.

“He really believed in eating simply,” said Lampkin. “His favorite foods were potatoes and bread, so one of the offerings here is vichyssoise soup. That’s a fancy word for potato leak soup.”

So from van Gogh’s favorite food to his exquisite works, you can sample it all here in Detroit.

“There is hardly a person in this country who doesn’t know his name,” said Shaw. “Vincent never came here, but something about his work is compelling to people. In many ways, it’s his humble subjects, the vibrant colors of his brush strokes we recognize his touch . It brings a lot of personal fulfillment to people who see his work.”

There are several ways you can take in the exhibition. There’s a gallery guide that allows you to look at a booklet with detailed information on your tour. There are two audio guides. One for children, the other for adults. However, Shaw recommends everyone use the children’s tour! You can also simply walk around and look at the works.

Van Gogh in America runs through January 22.

To learn more, click here.

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