CINCINNATI—Undergrowth with Two Figures by Vincent van Gogh will return to the walls of the Cincinnati Art Museum in the Mary E. Johnston Gallery (G227) on July 3. One of the most well-known and adored paintings in the museum’s permanent collection, Undergrowth with Two Figures will again be available to all visitors for enjoyment and study.
It was recently a highlight of the successful Van Gogh & Japan exhibition, which was on view in Hokkaido, Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The painting was seen by over 750,000 visitors in Japan alone.
Prior to the painting’s recent world travels, the Cincinnati Art Museum honored this work with the special exhibition Van Gogh Into the Undergrowth in fall 2016. Centered on Undergrowth with Two Figures, the exhibition traced the evolution of Van Gogh’s style and technique through a group of landscape paintings spanning his short but dynamic career.
Completed in June 1890, Undergrowth with Two Figures is one of the final artworks Van Gogh painted before his death. A rhythmic pattern of thick brushstrokes animates the surface of this painting, and trees in rows recess toward the dark background, making the couple seem trapped by the dense vegetation. Van Gogh described the scene in a letter to his brother Theo, dated June 30, 1890, as “violet trunks of poplars which cross the landscape perpendicularly like columns. The depths of the undergrowth are blue, and under the big trunks the flowery meadow, white, pink, yellow, green, long russet grasses and flowers.”
Unlike the Impressionists, who deployed a novel use of color to record the transient effects of light and atmosphere, Van Gogh was obsessed by the symbolic and expressive aspects of color. As he explained to Theo, “Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes, I use color more arbitrarily so as to express myself more forcibly.”
To celebrate the homecoming of the painting, the Cincinnati Art Museum and Listermann Brewing Company are collaboratively releasing a van Gogh-themed beer on July 21. Listermann Brewing Company is generously donating 10% of the beer proceeds to the Cincinnati Art Museum.
A launch party for the beer will be held at the Listermann taproom on Saturday, July 21, starting at 10 a.m. The beer will be available for purchase on tap and in 16 ounce four-pack cans featuring custom labels. The beer will also be available at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s event Art After Dark: Beer Bash on July 27, 5–9 p.m.
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.
Free general admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is made possible by a gift from the Rosenthal Family Foundation. Special exhibition pricing may vary. Parking at the Cincinnati Art Museum is free. The museum is open Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and Thursday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
Jill E Dunne
Cincinnati Art Museum