Van Gogh museum, Amsterdam, books

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum between Paulus Potter­straat and Museum­plein 6, opened in 1973. It was designed by architect Gerrit Rietveld and finished after Rietveld’s death by Joan van Dillen and J. van Tricht with many changes to the original design. The new ellipsis shaped wing from 1999, clad in titanium, was designed by Kisho Kurokawa, financed with a gift from The Japan Foundation of insurance company Yasuda.

The new wing, half underground, is connected with the old building by an under­ground passage. The museum was extensively renovated between 2012 and 2013. The main entrance, which was previously on Paulus Potter­straat, has been through the new wing since 2015.

View from inside the new 1999 wing of the Van Gogh museum, Amsterdam,towards Museumplein

Inside the new wing from 1999 of the Van Gogh museum, viewed towards Museum­plein (March 2022).

The Collection

The museum collection consists of more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, 700 letters (most to his brother Theo) and Van Gogh’s collection of Japanese woodblock prints. The main building is used for a permanent exhibition, the new wing for changing expositions. After his death Vincent left everything to his younger brother Theo. In 1960 a Vincent van Gogh foundation was created to safeguard the collection, and in 1962 the family received 15 million guilders from the state in exchange for the collected works, on condition that a dedicated museum for them would be built.

Detail of the Van Gogh painting Provençal Orchard from 1888

Detail of the painting Provençal Orchard from 1888 (December 2019).

When it opened it was a national museum, these days it is an independent foundation, the works of art though are part of the Dutch national collection. Some of Vincent’s most famous works (like the Sun­flowers, the Potatoe Eaters, the Bedroom and many more) can be found here. The museum also has works by other 19th century artists related to Vincent’s work, like Paul Gauguin, Jozef Israëls, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Since 1991 the Mesdag Collection in The Hague is also managed by the Van Gogh Museum. Two paintings, stolen in 2002, were rediscovered in Italy in 2016 inside a mob villa in Pompei — they were returned to the museum in 2017.

Posing in front of Van Gogh's enlarged Irises painting from 1890

Me in front of enlarged Irises painting from 1890 (January 2020).

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Vincent held various jobs from age 16 in art galleries in Paris, London and Brussels, but was fired in 1876. Next he wanted to be a preacher, but ended up working in a bookstore. After one year he left a theology study in Amsterdam and went on to be a lay preacher for coal miners in the Borinage district in Belgium. His constant depressions and his difficult, fanatical and explosive character made him hard to fit in. In the Borinage he started to draw and in 1880 he chose to be an full time artist, supported by his brother Theo. A short unhappy year in a Brussels art academy later, he returned to his parents in 1881, then lived in The Hague for a while.

Stairs inside the Van Gogh museum, Amsterdam

View of the stairs inside the museum (July 2021).

During a period in the province of Drente he produced dark paintings, culminating in the Potato Eaters in 1885. He left for Antwerp in that year. After only three months and many arguments with his teachers, he left his study at the Antwerp Art Academy. Antwerp held many disappointments for him: he was ridiculed for his art, living in poverty and also contracted syphilis there. He was exhausted and suicidal, and left for Paris without paying his debts. In Paris he discovered Japanese woodblock prints (in the gallery of art dealer Siegfried Bing) and started collecting them.

Museumplein, Amsterdam,  Van Gogh museum on the left

Museumplein, the Van Gogh museum on the left, behind it the Rijks­museum (November 2020).

In 1884, 34 years old, he went to Arles in the south of France, where he created his most impressive works at breakneck speed. In 1889 he submitted himself to a clinic in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where in one year he created around 150 paintings. But his depressions and nervous breakdowns continued. In 1890 he went to Auvers were he continued to work.

New wing of the Van Gogh museum, Amsterdam, seen from Museumplein

The new wing of the Van Gogh museum, seen from Museumplein (February 2022).

Vincent’s life was tainted by unrest, heartbreak and money problems — he had constant arguments and rows with his artist friends as well. During his life he probably only sold two drawings and one painting in 1890 (The Red Vinyard, now in Moscow). His very last painting was Tree Roots, unfinished, started the day before he died. It is generally assumed that Van Gogh shot himself in a corn field in July 1890 when he was 37 years old, dying two days later from the wound infection. His brother Theo was at his side — Theo died only six months later.

Van Gogh museum, Amsterdam, the new wing with the old building behind it

Van Gogh museum, the new wing with the old building behind it (June 2021).

Website Van Gogh Museum:

Car with a wrap of Almond Blossoms from a painting by Vincent van Gogh

Spotted in the nearby Gabriel Metsu­straat, a car with a wrap of Almond Blossoms, a group of several paintings made in 1888 and 1890 by Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Saint-Rémy, southern France (June 2021).

Statue Hope by Jan Ceizer on Museumplein, Amsterdam, Van Gogh museum behind it

Statue “Hope” by Jan Ceizer on Museum­plein, in the background on the left the Van Gogh museum (March 2022).

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