Van Gogh in America is the first exhibition dedicated to the introduction and early reception of Vincent van Gogh’s art in the United States. The exhibition will display 68 works by Van Gogh, illustrating the efforts made by early promoters of his art—including the artist’s family—in America. This is a story unique to Detroit; the DIA was the first public museum in the United States to purchase a painting by Van Gogh—his Self-Portrait (1887), acquired in 1922. The DIA is the exclusive venue for this exhibition.
This exhibition includes paintings, drawings, prints, and one illustrated letter by Van Gogh from museums and private collections around the world. Also included in the exhibition are works by Post-Impressionist artists Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, in addition to twentieth-century European and American artists Raoul Dufy, Henri Matisse, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, and Joseph Stella.
Van Gogh in America reveals the story of how America’s view of Van Gogh’s work evolved during the first half of the twentieth century. Despite his work appearing in well over fifty group shows during the two decades following his American debut in the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art (commonly known as the Armory Show), it was not until 1935 that Van Gogh was the subject of a solo museum exhibition in the United States. Around the same time, Irving Stone’s novel Lust for Life was published, and its adaptation into film in 1956 shaped and solidified America’s popular understanding of Van Gogh.
In 1922, the Detroit Institute of Arts was a vanguard institution, purchasing a number of daring works of modern art, including Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait (1887). It was not until the following decade that other American public, encyclopedic museums followed suit and purchased examples of Van Gogh’s paintings for their permanent collections. Notably, the next four paintings were purchased by Midwestern public institutions: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Saint Louis Art Museum; and Toledo Museum of Art. These important purchases—Olive Trees (1889; Nelson-Atkins); Stairway at Auvers (1890; Saint Louis); Houses at Auvers (1890; Toledo); and Wheat Fields with Reaper, Auvers (1890, Toledo)—are all featured in the exhibition.
An audio tour will be available. For group tour requests, please complete the appropriate form here or call 313-833-1292.