Understanding Vincent

Ulrike Grafberger, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 37 Views

Understanding Vincent

The idyllic village of Nuenen near Eindhoven is totally dedicated to its most famous resident, Vincent van Gogh. The famous Dutch artist only lived there for two years, but this period shaped his artistic creativity. The Vincentre information centre and a multimedia tour through the village give a profound insight into the life and the work of Vincent van Gogh.

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The idyllic village of Nuenen near Eindhoven is totally dedicated to its most famous resident, Vincent van Gogh. The famous Dutch artist only lived there for two years, but this period shaped his artistic creativity. The Vincentre information centre and a multimedia tour through the village give a profound insight into the life and the work of Vincent van Gogh.

In a letter written in 1883 he wrote, “I hope that by working hard I will one day be able to create something that is good.” Working hard really was Vincent van Gogh’s motto for life whilst he was living in Nuenen. He painted 180 pictures including his first masterpiece, The Potato Eaters, during the two years that he was living in the pastor’s house, the home of his parents. Months of studying heads and hands preceded this work of art.

A life-size reproduction of The Potato Eaters - poor farmers having a frugal meal, is part of the informative tour around Nuenen. The village has transformed itself into a kind of open-air museum with 23 information columns, sculptures and commemorative plaques throwing light on the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. Ad Krikke, our guide, who was a volunteer just like everyone else working at the Vincentre, took us to the beautiful pastor’s house where his parents lived, to the small church, and to the pond with the church tower in the distance. Vincent van Gogh had truly captured the details of all of these places in his paintings. “This is where he must have stood when he painted the chapel, but at a slightly lower position than we are at this moment. And this field used to be a pond,” Ad explained, showing us a copy of the painting “Congregation leaving the Reformed Church at Nuenen” which he painted in 1884.   

His enthusiasm for Vincent van Gogh is contagious. And so we learn a huge amount about the complex character of the artist, about his difficult relationship with his parents, his love for Margot that led to her attempted suicide, his interest in the lives of the simple people with whom he felt a connection, and his conscious choice of the dark colours that were also used by the weavers in his village.

After the tour through the village we went to the Vincentre information centre. None of the artist’s original paintings can be seen there but you learn so much about his life - through the living portraits, films, objects and the information boards.

The Vincentre is also managed by volunteers. The pride and the admiration for the former resident can be felt at all times and everywhere in both the information centre and in the village. Unfortunately, Vincent van Gogh was never able to experience this recognition. He only sold one picture during his lifetime. To Theo, his brother, he wrote, “You can see what I have found - my work; and you can also see what I haven’t found - anything else that is part of life.”

Vincent van Gogh would have liked the Vincentre.

Information:

  • Vincentre - Van Gogh dorp Nuenen
    Berg 29

    5671 CA Nuenen
  • Opening times: Tue – Su 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • During the summer (9.7. – 4.9.), it is also open on Monday afternoons from 1 p.m.
  • Entry: EUR 7, children (6 – 17 years of age) EUR 4
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