press release

With the opening of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, the city where Van Gogh created his most important pictures, will be enriched by an institution dedicated to showing original works by Vincent—in combination with contemporary art. Colour is the theme of the first exhibition to be devoted to Vincent van Gogh. Titled Colours of the North, Colours of the South, it traces the development of the artist's palette from the dark to the bright colours of southern France and juxtaposes his work with paintings by Mauve, Courbet, Pissarro, Monet, Monticelli, Gauguin and others. It is in Arles, in the inimitable light of the Provence that Van Gogh's œuvre reached its zenith. Within just fifteen months, between 1888 and 1889, the artist produced some 180 paintings, in which the people, the buildings and the natural environs are bathed in luminous, intoxicating colours. In a striking, freshly remodelled 15th-century building, which is well worth a visit in its own right, the inaugural exhibition Van Gogh Live! will present works by Elizabeth Peyton, Guillaume Bruère, Raphael Hefti, Thomas Hirschhorn, Gary Hume, Bethan Huws, Bertrand Lavier, Fritz Hauser and Camille Henrot.

"In Van Gogh's paintings, all is movement, all is animated. It's also the way I look at things." –Camille Henrot

The colour scheme of the Van Gogh exhibition has been devised by the English artist Gary Hume, and Camille Henrot has created flower arrangements in the Japanese ikebana tradition that reference a personal literary universe as well as Vincent's spiritual heritage. Tellingly, the artist asks, "Is it possible to be a revolutionary and like flowers?"

Thomas Hirschhorn's Indoor Van Gogh Altar, especially created for Arles, addresses Van Gogh's phenomenal fame and notoriety over the decades. Viewers walk into a self-contained world, oscillating between the questing fantasies of a fictional young Japanese woman and the farsighted reflections in quotations from Vincent's letters.

"Vincent van Gogh's work—as it is art—has 'resistance,' 'intensity,' 'movement,' 'conviction' and 'positivity.' His work, as it is art, is 'autonomous,' and it is this autonomy that gives his oeuvre its beauty." –Thomas Hirschhorn

The Foundation The Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles was state-approved in 2010 and aims to showcase this Dutch master's artistic heritage while also asking questions about the resonance of his oeuvre in art today. This presentation of the paintings of Van Gogh, alongside works by contemporary artists, stimulates a fruitful dialogue centred on interrogation and reflection. The direction of this ambitious artistic project has been entrusted to the art critic and curator Bice Curiger.

The site The Fondation is situated in the town's historic centre, which has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The light of Arles is the "guiding thread" running through the design of the architects Guilaume Avenard and Hervé Scheider, from the FLUOR agency.

Artistic director Bice Curiger has commissioned the contemporary artists Bertrand Lavier and Raphael Hefti to create permanent installations, punctuating the first steps of the visit and chiming with Vincent van Gogh's oeuvre. Inside, spread out over two floors, 3,500 square feet / 1,000 square meters of exhibition space will welcome original shows and installations, as well as commissioned works.