25. January - 17. May 2015 Musée des Beaux Arts Mons

VAN GOGH IN THE BORINAGE

The beginnings of an extraordinary career as an artist

This year's Capital of Culture Mons celebrates the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890) with a major exhibition at the Musée des Beaux Arts. During his stay in the Belgian region of Borinage - an industrial landscape around the town of Mons - van Gogh ended his career as a preacher and decided to become a painter.

Vincent van Gogh, who studied theology in Brussels, came to Mons in 1878. In those timess the coal basin Borinage had been desperately poor, but became one of the most important industrial centers of Belgium in the 19th century. And here, van Gogh read to the miners from the Bible. Why he just gave up his spiritual career in Mons and became a painter instead, the exhibition "Van Gogh in the Borinage. The birth of an artist" gives more information. The roughly 70 paintings, drawings and letters in the Musée des Beaux Arts take the visitor on a journey to this important period of his life, where van Gogh developed the ideas which should later prove to be the crucial basis of his artistic work. Other artists who had great influence on van Gogh's work are on display as well, including works by Jean-Francois Millet, for example.

The exhibition not only aims at giving a glimpse of the beginnings of the painter’s career of Vincent van Gogh, but also wants to offer the opportunity to the art-loving visitors to learn more about the former living conditions in the Borinage. At that time the harsh living conditions of the workers impressed van Gogh very much. It was in these first months of his career that he decided to use a subjective view for his work of art and turned himself to topics like the everyday life of ordinary workers and peasants, to whom he remained faithfully during his entire life.

Since little information is obtained from the time of his first steps as a painter, the show presents copies which van Gogh made on the basis of paintings and drawings of other artists, as well as works out of his subsequent stay in Brussels from October 1880 until April 1881.

Not only the comprehensive exhibition of the Dutch painter that still can be visited until May 17th 2015, but many other events around Mons enable visitors this year to discover the former coal and steel city from a new perspective.

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