Van Gogh’s Fascination: A Retrospective of the Cypress Trees

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has announced that it will host a landmark exhibition of works by Vincent van Gogh in 2023, focusing on the artist’s fascination with the sinuous cypress trees that appeared in many of his paintings during the last years of his life in the south of France. The exhibition, which will run from May 22 to August 27, 2023, will be the first to closely examine the distinctive trees that became an emblematic motif in Van Gogh’s work.

The exhibition will include around 40 paintings, drawings, and illustrated letters, many of which have never been exhibited outside of their respective collections or exhibited together. It will also reunite two masterworks for the first time since 1901: Wheat Field with Cypresses from the Met’s collection and The Starry Night from the Museum of Modern Art. Other significant works to be displayed include A Wheatfield, with Cypresses from the National Gallery in London, Country Road in Provence by Night from the Kröller-Müller Museum, and works from the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The exhibition will provide an in-depth look at Van Gogh’s fascination with the cypress trees, which he first encountered in Arles and later painted while at the asylum at Saint Rémy. Van Gogh captured the trees with "fierce power and expression," according to the Met’s director, Max Hollein. The show will explore the energy and relationship between the works through technical studies and other fascinating details. The cypress trees, often described as the "most famous trees in art history," became a defining feature of Van Gogh’s work and remained a source of inspiration for him until his death in 1890. This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to explore the enduring influence of these iconic trees on Van Gogh’s art.