In 1922, the Detroit Institute of Arts became the first public museum in the United States to buy a painting by Vincent van Gogh: the 1887 Self-Portrait, which cost the museum $4,200, per the Art Newspaper’s Martin Bailey.
This fall, a new exhibition at the museum, “Van Gogh in America,” will mark the 100th anniversary of the historic acquisition. It will be the largest U.S. showcase of the artist’s work in more than 20 years.
Born in 1853, van Gogh is regarded as one of the most renowned Post-Impressionist painters, known for his ability to express emotion through bold, dramatic brush strokes. But his fame came mostly after his death in 1890; he sold only one painting during his lifetime.
The Detroit exhibition will feature some 70 original van Gogh paintings, drawings and prints from all over the world, including the famed Starry Night Over the Rhône, on loan from Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, according to a statement from the museum. Painted in 1888 while van Gogh was living in Arles, France, the work depicts an illuminated sky reflecting over the Rhône River, and it was last displayed in the U.S. in 2011.
Another highlight is Van Gogh’s Chair—also painted in 1888—which was part of the artist’s first U.S. show in 1920, per the Art Newspaper. After the painting failed to sell in New York, London’s National Gallery purchased it in 1924 for $2,700.
The unique display will be the first exhibition devoted to van Gogh’s introduction and subsequent rise to fame in America. The artist’s debut in the U.S. came in 1913, and in the following decades his work appeared in over 50 shows. Even so, the museum writes in its statement, “it was not until 1935 that van Gogh was the subject of a solo museum exhibition in the United States.”
The exhibition will spotlight key events that shaped the artist’s reputation in America. One of those was the 1934 publication of Lust for Life, a biographical novel by Irving Stone about van Gogh’s story; a film adaptation came out in 1956.
“Unlike other organizations seeking to turn a profit on the work of van Gogh … by turning his art into a selfie backdrop, the [Detroit Institute of Arts]’s exhibit is the real deal,” wrote the Detroit Metro Times’ Randiah Camille Green earlier this year.
The exhibition will also include artworks by Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, both Post-Impressionists, as well as 20th-century artists Raoul Dufy, Henri Matisse, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes and Joseph Stella.
“Van Gogh in America” will be on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts from October 2, 2022 to January 22, 2023.