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Van Gogh, 1947

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The 1947 Vincent Van Gogh retrospective held at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, may seem to be a relatively obscure moment in the history of exhibitions. Yet some artistic and cultural ventures coming out of the show have had interesting afterlives. This article looks at how three productions – a Pathé newsreel story, Van Gogh Exhibition, 1947 (1947); Alain Resnais’s short film Van Gogh (1948); and Antonin Artaud’s pamphlet Van Gogh, Le Suicidé de la société (1947) – supplement and mediate the Paris exhibition. The exhibition appears, in turn, as a spectacle and social phenomenon (Pathé), a material basis for a narrative about the power of the imaginary in art and life (Resnais), and a dramatization of the impasse between the aesthetic and the social (Artaud). The article highlights the disparity between the logic of supplementarity that unfolds in the vicinity of the 1947 exhibition, where irreducibly elusive or mythic visions of aesthetic exposition predominate, and the double-edged models of supplementarity that circulate in present-day curatorial frameworks.
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Keywords: Alain Resnais; Antonin Artaud; Pathé; Vincent Van Gogh; exhibition history; exhibitions in film; exhibitions in the mass media; supplementarity in exhibitions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Cincinnati

Publication date: 01 April 2017

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  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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