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The Courtauld Gallery’s Van Gogh exhibition criticised

The infamous Courtauld Gallery’s London Van Gogh exhibition gets criticised for the inclusion of unorthodox anatomy style souvenirs.


Vincent Van Gogh, known notably for his self-portraits and iconic depictions of sunflowers, but perhaps more so, for his tragic acts of self-abuse was being highlighted from the 3rd of February to May 8th 2022 in London gallery The Courtauld. This was for the opening of the first major exhibition to explore ‘the full-span of the artist’s most enduring and personal subject matter’.


The Courtauld is an internationally renowned public art gallery and teaching centre for art history. The Institute of Art is an independent, research-led college of the University of London and the Gallery houses the art collection in the historical Somerset House.

Originally the first home to the Royal Academy.


However, references to Van Gogh’s mental health through souvenirs intended to complement the exhibition attracted criticism. 


Available from their online shop was a £16 ‘Emotional first-aid kit’, a £6 ‘Van Gogh Eareraser’ and a £5 sunflower soap marketed for the demographic of ‘The tortured artist who enjoys fluffy bubbles’. 


David Lee, art critic and editor of the Jackdaw magazine gave The Daily Mail a statement: ‘Would they, for example, be prepared to sell pencils in the shape of a false leg at a Frida Kahlo exhibition?’ in reference to the artist who had a leg amputated due to a gangrene infection.


Charles Thompson, co-founder of the Stuckism art movement referred to the products as: ‘shallow, nasty and insensitive’ to the Daily Mail. Continuing ‘What next? Van Gogh’s suicide pistol?’. 


The Courtauld Gallery refused to comment but have since removed the items in question, replacing them with suitable souvenirs.


Van Gogh is thought to have had either bipolar disorder or temporal lobe epilepsy after spending over a year at the Saint Paul asylum. He allegedly experienced heavy psychosis when he cut off his ear in 1888 and, at age 37, shot himself.


In the UK, if you or someone you know is struggling,

Samaritans can be contacted for free by calling 116 123 or emailing [email protected]

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Tags: #Exhibition #CourtauldGallery #VanGogh


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