Do you know what I think about quite often – what I used to say to you back in the old days, that if I didn’t succeed I still thought that what I had worked on would be continued. Not directly, but one isn’t alone in believing things that are true. And what does one matter as a person then? I feel so strongly that the story of people is like the story of wheat, if one isn’t sown in the earth to germinate there, what does it matter, one is milled in order to become bread. The difference between happiness and unhappiness, both are necessary and useful, and death or passing away... it’s so relative - and so is life.
(Fragment from letter 805, Vincent van Gogh)
When I Give, I Give Myself is an exhibition with works from contemporary artists and writers. Artist-curator Henk Schut choose a specific letter written by Vincent van Gogh for each of them to respond to. The presentations of the responses will be shown as a temporarily integrated part of the main collection in between the paintings of Van Gogh.
The above mentioned fragment from one of Van Gogh’s letters inspired Henk Schut to develop the concept behind this exhibition. Van Gogh’s writing about his artistic practice and thoughts can be seen as an integral part of his work and they are filled with insights that are still relevant today. Having contemporary artists respond to his writing shows this invisible and ongoing connection between past and present.
Van Gogh once hoped to be able to realize a place where he could invite colleagues to come and stay and exchange ideas and work. With this exhibition this dream is - albeit figuratively - realized exactly 125 years after his death in 1890.
The title When I Give, I Give Myself comes from a fragment from Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, who was also read by Van Gogh.
Van Gogh Museum - Amsterdam
CURATED BY Henk Schut