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Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Presents “Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature”

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David Hockney, Woldgate Vista, 27 July 2005, oil on canvas, David Hockney Inc. © David Hockney / photo: Richard Schmidt

This spring, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will examine the common ground between David Hockney (English, born 1937) and Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890) in Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature. The exhibition reveals Van Gogh’s unmistakable influence on Hockney’s work through a collection of 57 carefully selected landscape paintings and drawings by the two artists. Inaugurated in 2019 by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature will be on view in Houston—the only U.S. venue—from Sunday, February 21, through Sunday, June 20, 2021.

“This exhibition offers visitors an extraordinary opportunity to see these two visionary artists side-by-side,” said Gary Tinterow, MFAH Director, the Margaret Alkek Williams Chair. “We are delighted to collaborate with David Hockney and the Van Gogh Museum to bring these exceptional works to our audience in Houston.”

“Hockney once asked, ‘How can you be bored with nature?’ In this exhibition, we discover both artists’ profound love of nature expressed through brilliant color and the capacity to see the world with fresh eyes,” said Ann Dumas, consulting curator of European art for the MFAH.

Although separated in time and space, David Hockney and Vincent van Gogh are united by a shared fascination with nature, bold use of color, and experimentation with perspective—each crafting a painterly world that is utterly individual and true to himself, yet offers immense universal appeal. Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature brings together 47 of Hockney’s vibrant works—ranging from intimate sketchbook studies to monumental paintings, as well as his experimental videos and iPad drawings—alongside 10 carefully chosen paintings and drawings by Van Gogh.

Vincent van Gogh, Field with Irises near Arles, 1888, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

The central Hockney works selected for this exhibition were painted in the 2000s in Yorkshire Wolds, in northeastern England, where Hockney returned after almost 40 years in Los Angeles to visit his ailing mother and a terminally ill friend. There, he executed landscapes en plein air, revealing through observations of the changing seasons how light, space, and nature are constantly in flux. These imposing works offer vivid insight into Hockey’s love of nature and expose clear links to Van Gogh’s landscapes, such as Field with Irises near Arles (1888) and Path in the Garden of the Asylum (1890). “I’ve always found the world quite beautiful—and that’s an important thing I share with Van Gogh,” Hockney has noted. “We both really enjoy looking at the world.”

The illustrated catalogue Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature by Hans den Hartog Jager, published by Thames & Hudson, accompanies the exhibition.

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in partnership with the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and in collaboration with David Hockney.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

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march 2021

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