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Van Gogh dazzles at Netherlands' Kroeller-Mueller

By TOSTERLING Published: January 6, 2013

With the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam closed for renovations until April, the world's second-largest collection of the tortured Dutch master's work is stepping into the limelight.

The Kroeller-Mueller museum in the eastern Netherlands is not as well-known but is still considered a jewel among connoisseurs. It has revamped the layout of its central rooms, giving more space and more focus to its very best works.

“Van Gogh really stands central now, both physically in the museum and in the collection as a whole,” director Lisette Pelsers said in a telephone interview.

The museum recently announced that “Vincent is Back,” since many of its 91 Vincent Van Gogh paintings, 180 drawings and other works have been on loan, they are set to return in style.

It has opened “Native Soil,” the first of a two-part exhibition looking at the spectacular changes that Van Gogh underwent in his artistic career, which took place almost entirely in the decade from 1880 to 1890. The appropriately wintry exhibit focuses on Van Gogh's formative years in the Netherlands, with a dark palette and simple, somber subjects.

“Native Soil” culminates in what is widely regarded as Van Gogh's first great masterpiece, the 1885 “Potato Eaters.” It also shows smaller works that presage the colorful brilliance to come, such as the 1885 “Head of a Woman Wearing a White Hat,” which may have been part of Van Gogh's preparations for “Potato Eaters,” and the emotive 1882 study “Sorrowful Old Man” in black chalk.

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