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Cincinnati Art Museum’s Van Gogh exhibition to bring guests Into the Undergrowth

8/24/2016 12:00:00 AM

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October 15–January 8, 2017

CINCINNATI — Centered on Vincent van Gogh’s Undergrowth with Two Figures, the Cincinnati Art Museum’s new exhibition, Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth, will take visitors up close with celebrated woodland landscapes from October 15, 2016–January 8, 2017.

This exhibition—presented only at the Cincinnati Art Museum—brings an important group of artworks on loan from around the world together for the first time.

Exploring the works of the Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries, the exhibition traces the evolution of the Dutch artist’s love of the natural world, powers of observation and mastery of detail through this special group of landscape paintings spanning his career.

This exhibition is the first to take a close look at Van Gogh’s poetic depictions of the forest floor, known as sous-bois, the French term for “undergrowth.” These odes to nature were a reaction to the increasing industrialization and urbanization of society.

The exhibition allows visitors to compare Van Gogh’s treatment of this theme with examples by those who influenced and inspired him, including Théodore Rousseau, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin. Twenty artworks are borrowed from museum collections in Canada, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Japan and more, and are joined by works from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s own important collection of French paintings and works on paper.

“Visiting this exhibition is like taking a walk in the woods with Van Gogh and fellow artists,” explains Julie Aronson, Curator of American Painting and Sculpture. “Vincent van Gogh’s Undergrowth with Two Figures is widely recognized as one of the great masterpieces of Van Gogh’s late career. It is also a visitor favorite—often the favorite—among the many extraordinary works in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s galleries. This exhibition is a revelation that puts this significant work in the context of the art of its time.”

Since the Cincinnati Art Museum’s acquisition of Undergrowth with Two Figures in 1967, the museum has made this treasure available in major exhibitions around the world. It will travel to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2018.

In Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth, the painter is brought to life for visitors with his own words about the intimate relation between nature and art and the artists he admired, extensively quoted from his voluminous correspondence with his brother Theo. These letters serve as inspiration for the exhibition’s interactive activity, which involves a hands-on letter-writing experience. Another interactive will employ Google technology to allow visitors to explore Undergrowth with Two Figures on a touch screen, revealing the texture and brushstrokes of the painting in greatly enlarged detail.

With this exhibition, the Cincinnati Art Museum is leading the way with original scholarship in one of the few areas of Van Gogh study that remains to be explored. The accompanying catalogue, also titled Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth, examines Van Gogh’s engagement with the sous-bois subject from various perspectives. Co-published by D Giles Limited, it will be available for sale at the Cincinnati Art Museum and online this fall. Cornelia Homburg, art historian and one of the world’s foremost Van Gogh experts, is among the authors. She will be speaking at the Cincinnati Art Museum on October 16.

To shed further light on Van Gogh’s artistic milieu, the exhibition will also include Unlocking Van Gogh’s World, a rich display of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist prints from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s collection. In addition to Van Gogh, Artists Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Camille Pissarro, James McNeill Whistler and others will be included in this supporting exhibition.

Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth was organized with the generous support of the Harold C. Schott Foundation. This exhibition is also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Corporate sponsors for this exhibition include PNC, CFM International and Christie’s, along with Enquirer Media as the media sponsor.

The exhibition is presented on the museum’s second floor in the Western & Southern Gallery (G233), adjacent to Kentucky Renaissance: The Lexington Camera Club and Its Community, 1954–1974, on view October 8–January 1, 2017.

Tickets for Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth and Kentucky Renaissance: The Lexington Camera Club and Its Community, 1954–1974 are free for museum members and are available for purchase for the general public at the Cincinnati Art Museum front desk and online at


About Cincinnati Art Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum is supported by the generosity of individuals and businesses that give annually to ArtsWave. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Cincinnati Art Museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cincinnati Art Museum gratefully acknowledges operating support from the City of Cincinnati, as well as our members.

General admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is always free. The museum is open Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth Highlighted Programming

Tours and daily activities can be found at


Vincent: The Gala
October 14– SOLD OUT
Take a stroll through the dreams of Vincent van Gogh and experience fantastic cocktails, an elegant dinner, music and live auction under sparkling trees! The funds raised through sponsorships, table purchases and ticket sales help the museum bring the best of the art world to Cincinnati through great special exhibits and thousands of educational programs.

Art in the Making: Landscape Painting
October 15, 1–3 p.m.
Families will journey through the woods to explore the special exhibition, Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth, before creating a landscape painting with the help of a special guest artist. Designed for children ages 6–12 accompanied by an adult. Members: $5 per person, General public: $10 per person. Reservations required.

Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth—Lecture with Cornelia Homburg
October 16, 2 p.m.
Curious to learn about Vincent van Gogh’s attraction to the shady forest scenes we often find in his work? Join Cornelia Homburg, art historian and Van Gogh expert, to discover how the Cincinnati Art Museum’s celebrated Van Gogh painting, Undergrowth with Two Figures, fits into the rich tradition of painting sous-bois, or “undergrowth.”

Connect: In the Woods
October 22, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
This program is specifically designed for adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers. Join museum educators for a multi-sensory exploration of art from the special exhibition Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth. After the tour, we will create our own masterpieces in the Rosenthal Education Center. Reservations required.

Art After Dark: Into the Hallows’ Night
October 28, 5–9 p.m.
Celebrate the mysteries of the wooded world at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s monthly final Friday celebration. This happy hour includes ghost tours, entertainment, cash bar and more. For additional information, visit