The remarkable true story of the two Jews who “discovered” Van Gogh – St. Louis Jewish Light

Beyond exhibitions


Few artistic masters are as captivating as Vincent Van Gogh. We are not only captivated by his work, but the man himself, for his “reputation” definitely precedes him, in the form of legend, romance and tragedy. His work is fascinating with swirls of color juxtaposed with the often sad and lonely subjects he captures.

Yet Van Gogh’s paintings have accessibility, while providing a feeling and sense of place? Whatever reason his work touches you, it’s clear that van Gogh has entered the 21st century as a brand first and an artistic figure second.

Inna Rogatchi is a writer, scholar, artist, art consultant, filmmaker and author of highly regarded films on Simon wiesenthal The lessons of survival. Last year, she documented Van Gogh’s Jewish connections dating back just six months before the artist’s death in 1890. According to Rogaachi, the first positive critical opinion of Van Gogh’s work during his lifetime came from the Dutch Jewish artist of Joseph Jacob. Isaacson.

“Isaacson, who was a deep and well-educated person specializing in Jewish mysticism, realized the merits of Vincent’s art and wrote about it in the art magazine” The Portfolio “.


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Who is it that transmits, in form and color, the magnificent and dynamic energy that the 19th century refuses to realize? I know a man, a lone pioneer, struggling alone in the depths of the darkest night. His name, Vincent, will be passed on to posterity. There will be more to say about this heroic Dutchman in the future.

Unfortunately, according to Rogatchi, such praise for Van Gogh was rare during his lifetime, and it would later be the Jews who would catapult his work into the stuff of legends.

It would be at an exhibition of his work, 11 years after his death, that the world would truly realize his genius, thanks to a Jewish family and a Jewish art dealer.

In March 1901, a German Jewish art dealer by the name of Paul Cassirer arrived in Paris to see a Van Gogh exhibition at the Jewish-owned Bernheim-Jeune gallery. Cassirer traveled to Paris after reading an article written by Julius Meier-Graefe, a German Jewish art historian who would later write a fascinating biography of Van Gogh.

“Meier-Graefe noted and understood Van Gogh like no one else has before him, and it was largely thanks to him that the German public received his deep and brilliant appreciation which really made Van known. Gogh in Europe, ”Rogatchi wrote. .

Cassirer fell in love with Van Gogh the second he entered the Bernheim-Jeune galleries. He immediately arranged to “borrow” five Van Goghs and returned to Germany. He would then spend the next 25 years pursuing Van Gogh’s paintings while strengthening the artist’s appreciation and fame.

Just before the start of World War I, Cassirer had 14 Van Goghs on display in his Berlin gallery, and through his efforts Van Gogh’s fame grew, first in Europe and then around the world. By 1914, according to Rogatchi, “German collectors, in large part, as well as some museums, owned as many as 120 oil paintings and 36 drawings by Van Gogh, the master whom no one had heard of a long time ago. little more than ten years. It was an extraordinary boom that has no precedent in the history of art.

And two Jews, Julius-Meiero Graefe and Paul Cassirer were the reason.

“I think it was the paradox of the brilliant mind of these great Jewish men that enabled them to grasp the genius of Van Gogh,” Rogatchi wrote. “They were so right. There has not been and there will never be an artist like Vincent Van Gogh. And our deep thanks should go to both of you for realizing the magnetism of Van Gogh’s unresolved mysteries so early for the good of us all.

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About Bernice D. Brewer

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