Monday Lectures

Zoom lecture



28 June 2021

Story of an Odd Couple

Van Gogh and Gauguin in Arles

With Chris Boïcos

Vincent Van Gogh, Self Portrait dedicated to Gauguin, 1888

Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard

On October 23, 1888 Paul Gauguin at last arrived in Arles to stay with his friend Vincent van Gogh, who had moved to the small provincial town in Provence in February of that year. For months Vincent had been writing to Gauguin urging him and his young friend in Brittany, the artist Emile Bernard, to join him in the Midi. Vincent’s dream was to found in the south a colony of like-minded creative artists working in harmony with each other in the splendid nature and light he had discovered in Arles.


The two months the two artists spent together living and working together in Vincent’s “little yellow house” will be the subject of our lecture. We will analyze the personal and artistic relationship between the two masters and how their inner demons, personalities and deeply held beliefs about what art should be, led to the dramatic clash of 23 December that ended with the celebrated truncation of Vincent’s right earlobe. Despite their disagreements both artists absorbed much from each other so that the intensity of their artistic and emotional dialogue yielded in the end the styles and artistic attitudes that would in the future have the greatest impact on the evolution of modern art.

Paul Gauguin, Self Portrait 'Les misérables', 1889

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

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