From 23 October 2019 to 16 February 2020, the Frankfurt museum will present a comprehensive exhibition on Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). The largest and most elaborate show in the history of the Städel to date will revolve around the special significance of German gallery owners, collectors, critics and museums for the success story of this precursor of modern art, while also illuminating his role as a decisive figure for the art of German Expressionism. It will feature more than 120 paintings and works on paper, including around 50 of the artist’s key works and 70 artworks by further artists of significance to modern art.

The Städel will present outstanding works from collections in Germany and abroad, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in Prague and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Among the highlights will be the self-portraits from the Art Institute in Chicago and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, but also the famous paintings Augustine Roulin (Rocking a Cradle) (1889, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam) and Fishing Boats on the Beach at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).

“At the time of his death in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1890, only few of Van Gogh’s contemporaries were acquainted with his work. When the first Van Gogh exhibitions took place in Europe’s cultural metropolises around the turn of the century, the fame of his oeuvre rose dramatically. The special exhibition at the Städel Museum will show that, without the history of the artist’s reception in Germany, this development – and Vincent van Gogh’s continued popularity to the very present – would hardly be conceivable”, comments Städel director Philipp Demandt.

“Van Gogh is dead, but the van Gogh people are alive. And how alive they are! It’s van Gogheling everywhere”, wrote Ferdinand Avenarius in Der Kunstwart in 1910 to describe the fascination Vincent van Gogh’s paintings held for artists in Germany – particularly the younger ones – in the early twentieth century. This country was of decisive significance for the Dutchman’s success story. Thanks to the dedication of German gallery owners, critics, collectors and museum directors, less than fifteen years after his death – and thus earlier than in other countries – he was perceived here as one of the most prominent precursors of modern painting. The Städel and its then director Georg Swarzenski also played a leading part. In 1908, with support from its Museums-Verein, Swarzenski purchased the early painting Farmhouse in Nuenen (1885) for the Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, making the Städel one of the first public museums in Germany to own a work by Van Gogh. The Portrait of Dr Gachet (1890) followed in 1911, only to be confiscated from the Städel in 1937 for the personal disposal of Hermann Göring. Städel director Swarzenski moreover actively advocated the purchase of van Gogh’s works by other museums such as the Kunsthalle Bremen.

The exhibition will be the first ever to take an in-depth look at Van Gogh’s œuvre in the context of its reception in Germany. Its point of departure will be a selection of major works from all phases of the Dutch painter’s career. Building on that foundation, the presentation will be devoted to Van Gogh’s significance for the development of German art at the beginning of the twentieth century. Here an important reference point will be the Städel’s own extensive Expressionist collection. Alongside well-known examples by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (180-1938), Erich Heckel (1883-1970), Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976), Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907), Gabriele Münter (1877-1962) and Max Beckmann(1884-1950), the show will also feature artists meriting rediscovery – and on whom Van Gogh had an equally formative influence –, for example Peter August Böckstiegel (1889-1951), Theo von Brockhusen (1882–1919) or Heinrich Nauen (1880-1940). The chief aim of this large-scale exhibition and research project is to contribute decisively to a better understanding of the development of art in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century, while also shedding light on Van Gogh’s role as a key figure for the art of the German avant-garde.

The exhibition is being realized with support from the Franz Dieter und Michaela Kaldewei Kulturstiftung and the Städelsche Museums-Verein e.V.


Curators: Dr Alexander Eiling (Head of the Department of Modern Art, Städel Museum) and Dr Felix Krämer (Director General, Kunstpalast Düsseldorf)
Project management: Elena Schroll (Curatorial Assistant, Department of Modern Art, Städel Museum)
Exhibition dates: 23 October 2019 to 16 February 2020
Press preview: Monday, 21 October 2019, 11.00 am

Visitor services and guided tours: +49(0)69-605098-200,
Location: Städel Museum, Schaumainkai 63, 60596 Frankfurt am Main
Advance ticket sales: Flex Tickets are now available for 25 euros at

Digitorial®: An artist digitorial will be released in advance of the exhibition. Made possible by the Fazit-Stiftung
Audio tour: The audio guided tour of the exhibition in German and English
Podcast: Prior to the exhibition, the Städel Museum will launch a podcast – a narrative audio drama in several parts – for the first time. The Portrait of Dr Gachet (1890) takes centre stage. Van Gogh’s last major likeness, this painting has been inaccessible to the public for nearly three decades. In FINDING VAN GOGH we set out in search of the legendary work. On the way, we encounter contemporary witnesses, experts and Van Gogh enthusiasts in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. Beginning with a microscopic view of the artwork, the podcast retraces what is presumably the greatest myth surrounding an artist. In the process, it takes a look at the machinery behind the international art market. The podcast is our latest addition to the Städel’s digital museum education formats.

Supported by: Franz Dieter und Michaela Kaldewei Kulturstiftung, Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.

Media partner: Süddeutsche Zeitung, hr – Hessischer Rundfunk
Marketing partner: Alnatura, Fraport, Tourismus+Congress GmbH Frankfurt am

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