Five of Vincent van Gogh’s most iconic masterpieces are about to be reunited in a virtual Facebook exhibition. A quintet of paintings from the Dutch artist’s beloved “Sunflowers” series will star in a Facebook Live video on August 14, making for a must-see virtual art event.
“Rather like the Mona Lisa and The Night Watch, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers are works of art that continue to intrigue and inspire, perhaps into eternity,” said the artist’s great-great nephew, Willem van Gogh, in a statement. He will help narrate the online art show, sharing his personal memories of seeing 15 Sunflowers as a child in his grandparents’ home.
Van Gogh painted the famous sunflower canvases while living in Arles, in the south of France, in 1888 and 1889. Today, the works are scattered across the globe. They have never been seen together in a single exhibition since being sold by the artist’s sister-in-law, Jo Bonger, wife of Theo van Gogh.
Five institutions have teamed up for the special Facebook event: the National Gallery (London), Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Neue Pinakothek (Munich), and the Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art (Tokyo). (The last two paintings in the series are The Three Sunflowers, held in a private collection and last exhibited in 1948, and Six Sunflowers, which was destroyed by American bombing in Japan during the end of World War II.)
In 2014, the Van Gogh Museum lent 15 Sunflowers to the National Gallery. “The excitement we saw,” recalled National Gallery curator Christopher Riopelle in a statement, “convinced us that there is a deep curiosity on the part of the public and scholars alike to understand how this famous series came into being, what the pictures meant to Vincent, and what they mean to us today.”
The Facebook display will begin at 12:50 p.m. EST, when the National Gallery kicks off the first of five consecutive 15-minute Facebook Live broadcasts. Each broadcast will showcase one of the works in a presentation by a museum curator.
The first such relay among worldwide cultural institutions, the virtual event will also give “visitors” a chance to see all five works in one room, thanks to Sunflowers 360, created using VR technology and CGI. The experience, featuring Willem van Gogh’s narration, can be accessed using Gear VR and is available as a 360-degree video on Facebook.
“The virtual gallery and live stream now provide a novel way for art lovers, young and old, to admire these magnificent masterpieces, from all corners of the globe,” added Willem van Gogh.
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