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“Van Gogh & Japan” concerns a love affair of creative misperceptions between temporally and geographically distant admirers. Van Gogh (1853-1890) never went to Japan, though he idealized it briefly as a utopia in which artists worked communally in converse with nature.

Attempting to establish what became a short-lived artists’ collective in Arles from early 1888, Van Gogh described a town surrounded by fields of spring flowers as a “Japanese dream.” He wrote to his sister that he no longer needed Japanese paintings: “Here in Arles, I am in Japan.” This fanciful outlook transposed a cheerier disposition upon what were famously troubled times for the artist.

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