Vincent van Gogh and the Psychology of Portraiture


Vincent van Gogh and the Psychology of Portraiture

October 7, 2011 — February 5, 2012
Blank One Gallery




This exhibition, drawn from the Art Center’s permanent collections, was inspired by the recent
acquisition of Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet (L’Homme à la Pipe), 1890. The only etching
van Gogh ever made, the work vividly portrays the doctor who treated and befriended him during
the last months of his life. Etched with the artist’s signature swirling lines and emotional intensity,
Van Gogh presents Dr. Gachet in a similar somber manner to his painting of the same man, what he
described as the “heartbroken expression of our time,” and one that recalls many of the artist’s own
self-portraits. Following the spirit of this work, several psychologically-charged portraits have been
chosen not only for their emotional intensity but for the way they reveal each artist’s expressive powers.
Oscar Wilde said that “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”
Spanning over a hundred years and various types of media, the works in this exhibition reveal much
about artist, subject, and the creative dialogue between the two. In addition to van Gogh, other artists on
view include Lucian Freud, Chuck Close, and Andy Warhol, among others.
     This exhibition is supported in part by the Harriet S. Macomber Fund and was organized by
Laura Burkhalter, associate curator.


Gallery Talk

Lecture: Becoming VAN GOGH


Above: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
Portrait of Dr.Gachet (L'Homme à la Pipe), May 25, 1890 (detail)
Etching on paper, 13 7/8 x 10 3/8 inches
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collection; Purchased with funds
from the Mildred M. Bohen Deaccession Fund and from funds given by
Harriet Macomber in Memory of J. Locke Macomber, 2011.4

entirely unexpected