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Vincent Van Gogh: A New Way Of Seeing

April 14, 2015

ArtsFilm + EntertainmentReview | by Francesco Cerniglia

Van Gogh Museum

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the death of one of the most significant artists that ever lived, Vincent Van Gogh, whose work not only inspired a generation of artists, but moreover defined one of the most innovative and avant-garde movements in the history of art.

Vincent Van Gogh: A New way of Seeing, directed by David Bickerstaff, gives us complete access to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam with specialist commentary from prominent figures in the world of art history such as Vincent Willem Van Gogh (great grandson of Van Gogh’s brother Theo), Dominique Charles Janssens (President of the Insitute Van Gogh), Axel Ruger (director of the Van Gogh Museum) and Teio Meedendorp and Louis Tilborgh (Museum senior researchers).

The film not only provides a high definition cinematic experience of seeing Van Gogh’s work close up and on the big screen, it moreover offers new insight into his world-famous masterpieces which the Museum has rearranged in chronological order, as to reveal the artist behind them, and therefore revealing the true story of a man who for too long has been misunderstood.

A New Way Of Seeing tracks the life and artistic development of Van Gogh from the beginnings in the Netherlands and England to his final days in France and besides the professional commentary, the film is also narrated by Van Gogh’s letters to his family and friends, primarily to his brother Theo.

The letters reveal depth and provide us a glimpse into the artist’s psyche and with that, give us a better understanding of his state of mind and what Van Gogh was going through psychologically, as an artist who was constantly seeking for connection and inspiration, deeper meaning – and his struggles with what it meant for him to be an artist and living that lifestyle.

The insight provided shows that Vincent was not some mad, isolated genius, but rather a deep thinking man who was extremely well read, and a sensitive observer, someone who was dedicated to understanding the essence of making art. Through his letters we understand his fascination with nature and his admiration for ordinary people from everyday life – yet the ever present feeling of alienation.

Van Gogh moved a lot, and as much as a new location inspired him in the beginning, he soon would get tired and depressed and had to change scenery all over again – always trying to rediscover and push himsef, and looking for inner peace, self expression and artistic growth.

The change of location, and therefore scenery can be traced back in his paintings. In that he was inspired by his surroundings: primarly nature and working class people. The state of mind Van Gogh describes himself in is also revealed in his paintings such as his admiration for hard working peole due to his religious (protestant) beliefs – and being one with nature.


Finally we also get a better understanding of his relationship with fellow artist Gaugain, and what caused the fight between them which ended with Van Gogh choppng off his ear. Moreover, the film explores other meaningful relationships in his life such as his first girlfriend, and most importantly his brother, who supported him and his lifestyle and was there for him until his last breath.

A New Way Of Seeing offers not only a priviliged access behind the scenes at the Van Gogh Museum, but moreover offers a profound glance into the life of a man who reminds us in his own words that “Art is long and life is short”. This is a film for all ages and definitely a must see for those interested in art history and modernism.

VINCENT VAN GOGH: A NEW WAY OF SEEING is released in UK cinemas on April 14th

Limor Gottlieb