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The Van Gogh irises that brighten refrigerator magnets and wrap around coffee mugs are sweet. But they don’t compare to the real deal, unveiled Friday morning at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Vincent van Gogh’s 1890 “Irises, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence” is the third and final “mystery masterpiece” that the museum has presented as part of its centennial celebration. One of the Dutch artist’s most famous and appealing pictures, “Irises” is a big, exuberant bouquet — 3 feet tall and about 2 feet wide — of blue-violet blossoms and spiky green leaves in a gold vase by a sunny yellow wall.

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In the spring of 1889, following his mental breakdown in Arles, which culminated with the infamous ear-cutting incident, Vincent van Gogh voluntarily committed himself to an asylum in nearby Saint-Remy. The doctor there diagnosed his mania and hallucinations as the result of a kind of epilepsy. Van Gogh, lucid by this time but feeling in need of a rest, settled in and did what he always did: He painted.

In fact, the restorative year he spent at Saint-Remy was remarkably productive. He painted the asylum's garden and the view from his bedroom window.

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Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum is gearing up to re-open to the public after closing earlier this year for renovations. Masterpieces such as Sunflowers, The Bedroom, Irises, and The Potato Eaters were returned to the museum on Friday, April 26, 2013 after seven months on view at the Hermitage Museum. The museum is slated to re-open on May 1, 2013 with the exhibition Van Gogh at Work inaugurating the newly updated space.

Updates to the Van Gogh Museum began in 2010 after intensification in fire safety regulations. Most of the recent refurbishments centered on the replacement of the museum’s air conditioning installations. The museum is now equipped with a modern and sustainable air conditioning unit that allows the right climatic conditions to be set for each room. The structure’s roof was also replaced and outfitted with extra insulation, the floors have been replaced, and the walls are newly repainted.

The Van Gogh Museum, which opened in 1973, houses the largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s (1853-1890) paintings and drawings in the world. Van Gogh at Work will coincide with the 160th anniversary of the artist’s birth and offers an extensive overview of Van Gogh’s oeuvre. The exhibition will be on view through January 12, 2014.

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012 22:19

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum Closes, Paintings Moved

This past Sunday, 75 Van Gogh paintings including Sunflowers, Irises, and Bedroom, were pulled off the walls of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and transported across the city in an armored car. The masterpieces will be on view for the next seven months at the Hermitage, an Amsterdam dependency of the Russian state museum, while the Van Gogh Museum undergoes renovations.

Moving irreplaceable works of art proved to be no easy task. Each painting was loaded onto felt-covered trolleys and taken to a workshop where they were wrapped in protective insulation and then packed into hard-shell carrying cases. The cases were then assigned code numbers to keep the paintings’ identities under wraps. The decidedly huge undertaking went off without a hitch.

The Hermitage’s Van Gogh exhibit opens on Saturday, September 29th and will run through mid-April. The revamped Van Gogh Museum is slated to re-open on April 25, 2013.

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