the van gogh museum

Posted on January 24, 2009


The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is pretty hard on its namesake. Walking through the chronological display, one is struck by the beauty of a cosy kitchen scene only to find the information card next to it pointing out that Vincent had clumsily painted both the back and the side of that chair over there in the bottom left corner. Can you believe that idiot? And look at this portrait over here. You can see more of the side this woman’s face than you would if this was a photograph. Here let me superimpose a human head’s outline over it so you can see, empirically, just how much he fucked up. I guess that’s what happens when you’re self-taught, am I right?

Okay, it’s not really that bad, but, attitude aside, those examples are real and I’m having a hard time explaining it. Does the museum feel like it would lose credibility if its commentary was too glowing? (Oh, no, we’re already named after him, we better not look like we’re sucking up.) Is this some kind of weird stab at objectivity? Or is the Van Gogh Museum trying to cooly distance itself from Van Gogh?

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