Van Gogh paintings -
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890), “Charrette de Bœuf,” 1884, oil on canvas, Portland Art Museum

The Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) presents the major exhibition “Van Gogh and His Inspirations,” on view Friday, October 4, 2019, through Sunday, January 12, 2020. Organized by the CMA and presented by the Blanchard Family, “Van Gogh and His Inspirations” is an original, exclusive exhibition that brings the work of one of the most beloved artists in the world to Columbia, South Carolina, alongside a variety of handpicked paintings and drawings that shaped his vision.

Van Gogh paintings -
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890), “Flower Beds in Holland,” c. 1883, oil on canvas on wood, 48.9 x 66 cm (19 ¼ x 26 in.), National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1983.1.21

“‘Van Gogh and His Inspirations’ represents an exhilarating high-water mark for exhibitions at the Columbia Museum of Art,” says Executive Director Della Watkins. “This show is the culmination of years of work to secure loans from museums and private collections; plan complicated logistical details; establish national, statewide, and local partners in arts, culture, tourism, marketing, hospitality, and education; and honor audience requests for internationally significant shows in the Midlands. Get ready to immerse yourself in fascinating stories and breathtaking art, and get to know the real Van Gogh, one of history’s most mysterious and intense artists.”

Van Gogh paintings -
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890), “Nursery on Schenkneg,” 1882, black chalk, graphite, pen, brush, and ink, heightened with white body color on laid paper watermarked ED & CIE (in a cartouche), the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Art historians and South Carolina residents Steven Naifeh and his late partner Greg Smith made a major contribution to the understanding of Van Gogh through the publication of their monumental book (and New York Times bestseller) Van Gogh: The Life in 2011. During the decade spent researching and writing this book, with access to the Van Gogh Museum archives and translations of previously ignored documents, the pair built a coherent collection of works by artists who influenced Van Gogh’s aesthetic thinking. On view to the public for the first time, this private collection speaks directly to Van Gogh’s artistic evolution.

Historic oil paintings -
Antonij (Anton) Rudolf Mauve (Dutch, 1838–1888), “On the Dunes,” c. 1875, oil on canvas, Naifeh/Smith Collection

In addition to the Naifeh/Smith collection used as its foundation, “Van Gogh and His Inspirations” includes loans from 12 museums across the U.S., to explore the development of Van Gogh through the lens of the artists who inspired him. The exhibition also brings 12 paintings and drawings by Van Gogh himself, including an outstanding painting of flower fields from the National Gallery of Art, a sensitive painting of a weaver from the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and the world-famous self-portrait from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Side by side with their inspirations, these works offer visitors a window into the mind of Van Gogh.

Historic oil paintings -
Eugène Boudin, (French, 1824–1898), “Trouville, Les Jetées, Marée Basse,” 1888, oil on panel, John and Kay Bachmann Collection

In total, “Van Gogh and His Inspirations” consists of some 60 works, largely paintings but also drawings and etchings, that form a unique, landmark exhibition that builds on the scholarship of Smith and Naifeh.

Historic oil paintings -
Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant (French, 1845–1902), “La Butte Montmartre en 1878,” 1878, oil on canvas, Naifeh/Smith Collection

“Van Gogh and His Inspirations” is on view Friday, October 4, 2019, through Sunday, January 12, 2020. For more information, please visit


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  1. Hello, Beatrice! I don’t know that it will be in Santa Barbara, but you can contact the museum directly; they may have updated information on if the exhibition will be traveling near there: Thank you for asking!


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