Owens is one of the most celebrated American artists working today. For twenty-five years she has asked probing questions about the parameters of painting. She has expanded painting’s possibilities by breaking through the boundaries between painting and other fields of visual and material culture such as embroidery, design, children’s illustrations and digital drawing. In this exhibition, Owens’s works will host and respond to Van Gogh’s paintings. Owens spent most of 2020 living in and around Arles, and her new work comes out of meticulous research into the history of the city and of Van Gogh’s connections here.
Like most artists, Owens has known Van Gogh’s work since she was a child, and she has looked at his art in various ways throughout her career. One of her breakthrough paintings, now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Untitled (1997), shows black birds over a seascape, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows (1890). Owens’s conceptual use of dramatic impasto, especially since 2012, recalls the textures of Van Gogh’s best known works.
The seven Van Gogh paintings to be shown at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles include loans from museums with which Owens has a deep connection. Hospital at Saint-Rémy (1889) comes from the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the city where she lives when not in Arles. Other key loans include The Fields, painted in Auvers-sur-Oise shortly before Van Gogh died.
Co-curated by Bice Curiger (artistic director of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles) and Mark Godfrey (British art historian, critic, and curator), the exhibition will share how Laura Owens explores the images, colors and methods of Van Gogh, creating a conceptual framework for her investigations.