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Review: Van Gogh: His Life in Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Updated: Jun 17, 2019

Vincent van Gogh is arguably one of the most famous artists in the world, but general public knowledge only scratches the surface his artwork, who he was as a person and what his story is. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston does him, and us a valuable service with "Van Gogh: His Life in Art," on view through June 27.

We traveled to Houston to see it in April, and needless to say, we weren't the only ones there!

The two most well-known pieces displayed were one of Van Gogh's self-portraits and "Irises."

While I had seen this painting countless times in prints, on merchandise, etc., the real thing was still stunning and even more beautiful and interesting in person. The gold-colored paint shines nearly metallic, and time has turned the flowers from purple to varying shades of blue.

"By placing the purple flowers against a yellow background, he made the decorative forms stand out even more strongly. The irises were originally purple. But as the red pigment has faded, they have turned blue." -Van Gogh Museum.

My favorite was "Portrait of a Peasant Girl in Straw Hat."

I loved its vibrancy and energy, and how so many different colors, patterns and textures came together in a piece so cohesive and impactful.

"Portrait of a Man, 1888" was also memorable. Van Gogh captured the essence of this person through his expression and features so precisely, while staying true to his loose, post-impressionistic style.

"Impressionism recorded nature in terms of light and color. Post impressionists rejected these limitations and instead sought to be more expressive. They were not concerned with depicting the effects of light and other visual effects like those seen in the impressionism movement, they were less idyllic." -Van Gogh Gallery.

But where "Vincent van Gogh: His Life in Art" really shone was in telling a more complete story of the artist, and taking viewers deeper into his life and relationships. Rather than simply displaying these famous pieces, this exhibition was given more depth and context through the story of Van Gogh's relationship with his brother, Theo, who supported Vincent for much of their lives.