Van Gogh exhibit focuses on artist's development

Associated Press Modified: October 22, 2012 at 9:30 am •  Published: October 22, 2012

DENVER (AP) — Before Vincent van Gogh painted "Sunflowers" or "The Starry Night," he worked as a teacher and hoped to become a minister. After he was told he didn't have the skills to be a preacher, he turned to art.

The story of how one of the most popular postimpressionist painters developed his signature style is told in an exhibit that the Denver Art Museum assembled using more than 70 van Gogh works from dozens of museums and collections around the world. The exhibit also includes artists who influenced him and from fellow postimpressionists.

"Becoming Van Gogh" opens Sunday and runs through Jan. 20 at the Denver Art Museum.

"We're showing an earlier part of his career, his mentors," said Timothy Standring, the Denver Art Museum painting and sculpture curator who curated the exhibition with Louis van Tilborgh of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

"We're showing his self-taught moments when he learned how to draw. We're showing all those phases that people don't really know about. It's not just 'Sunflowers' and 'Starry Night.' It's a richer, complicated story, and everybody's going to be thrilled when they leave this exhibition and say, 'I know this guy much more.'"

The exhibit doesn't include those two paintings or any versions of "The Bedroom" but does have three of van Gogh's self-portraits as well as paintings from the last year of his life. It also includes lesser-known early works, from before the Dutch painter joined his brother Theo in Paris.

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