Exhibition treat: Van Gogh at the Courtauld

This weekend, a good friend and I enjoyed an art and photography fix in London. First on our itinerary: the Van Gogh, Self-Portraits exhibition and the Courtauld collections. 

Viewing so many of Van Gogh's self-portraits together provides opportunity to admire the evolution of his work. And, for me, to gawk in awe at his brushwork and colour. He did have an amazing ability to create very emotive work. 

Jeanne-Louise standing in front of Van Gogh self-portrait

One particular self-portrait (pictured above) made me recall my primary school days. An art teacher set us a copy exercise of Van Gogh's Self-portrait as a painter (1887–88). It's quite an intricate work and I can remember spending ages trying to master all the details. I wasn't that impressed with my final painting but the teacher seemed to think I'd done a decent job. I don't have an image of my version but from what I remember of it, I'd given him a much blockier face and failed to capture the gauntness of his distinctive cheekbones. 

One of my on-going personal challenges is not to overwork my paintings and gain more confidence in mark-making. In this respect, there's always loads to learn from the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. In addition to admiring this aspect of Van Gogh's portraits, I also particularly enjoyed feasting on the details of the Cézanne and Renoir paintings in the Courtauld permanent collections. In fact, I think the freedom of the greens in Cézanne's L'Etang des Soeurs, Osny (c. 1875) was my art highlight of the day.

Jeanne-Louise standing in front of Degas dancer sculpture

Those of you who enjoy my ballet creations won't be surprised that I snapped a selfie with the Degas dancers painting. I had a bit of a chuckle too – the Degas dancer sculpture (pictured above) reminded me of some of the ungainly poses I strike when I'm trying to understand the nuances of the human body for my own dance creations.

We also enjoyed a wander through the Sony World Photography Awards at Somerset House. My favourite photograph on display was Vicente Ansola's Exodus, awarded first place in the landscape category.

And there may have been some lovely cocktails up the Shard too, obviously just to take in the city-by-night views.

If you're in London in the next two weeks, you can catch Van Gogh, Self-Portraits at the Courtauld until 8 May. and the Sony World Photography Awards at Somerset House until 2 May.

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