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Record numbers expected at Van Gogh exhibition

Women crossing the fields painted in 1890 Keystone

The first Van Gogh exhibition in Switzerland for nearly 30 years is expected to attract record numbers of visitors this summer at the Gianadda Foundation in Martigny.

This content was published on July 14, 2000 - 14:47

Last Sunday over 3,500 people flocked to see the 90 paintings and drawings on show, several of which have not been publicly exhibited for half a century.

"Currently the record for a single day is 5,000, during our Gauguin exhibition a couple of years ago," said Martha Degiacomi, who is in charge of guided tours. "We can expect similar numbers, if not more, once word gets round about this one."

It is not difficult to see why. The guest curator, Ronald Pickvance, is a leading expert on Van Gogh and was able to use his contacts with major museums and private collectors to have them loan the Gianadda Foundation a dazzling array of works by the Dutch master.

The exhibition contains a number of surprises, the first being the absence of familiar Van Gogh paintings of sunflowers. "The pictures here may be less well-known, but they are no less important," said Degiacomo, "because they cover every period of his career."

This means it is possible to follow Van Gogh's stylistic evolution, which began in 1881 when he became influenced by masters such as Rembrandt. During his stay in Paris the colours become brighter and the brushstrokes show the influence of the impressionist movement.

He then moved to Arles in search of an even more intense light - and as the paintings clearly show, he found it.

Perhaps another surprise for visitors is the high quality of drawings by Van Gogh, who many know only as a painter.

The exhibition ends on November 26.

by Richard Dawson

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