Taking a journey through Van Gogh’s various residences in the Netherlands and France, this show features 27 of the Dutch artist’s still lifes. It starts with the earthy-toned “Still Life with Cabbage and Clogs” made in The Hague in 1881. We are told the luminous arrangement is one of his earliest paintings and a distinct move away from the tradition of depicting heavily symbolic or exotic objects. An extract from one of the artist’s letters reveals that his cousin and teacher Anton Mauve “installed me in front of a still life consisting of a couple of clogs and other objects so I could set to work”. Pleasant surprises include two works painted during Van Gogh’s years in Paris: his first foray into pointillism “Interior of a Restaurant” from 1887 showing a dressed but empty restaurant and the dramatic 1886 “Vase with Red Gladioli”, not a typical Van Gogh but masterly nonetheless. The famous sunflowers may be absent from this show (none are ever loaned out), but seeing in person Van Gogh’s thick swirls of paint rising from the canvases and the singing colours of the works provides a truly visceral experience.
Van Gogh: Still Lifes | Museum Barberini, Potsdam. Through Feb 2.