Art media

London art gallery pulls sanity-cheating Van Gogh memorabilia from sale after backlash

An art gallery in London has recently come under fire for ridiculing mental health by selling memorabilia that directly reference the artist Vincent Van Gogh and his eventful life.

The story of van Gogh’s left ear loss is known to many around the world. The artist is believed to have had a run-in with fellow artist Paul Gauguin, following which he cut off his ear and became known as the legendary “tortured artist”.

London’s Courtauld Gallery has come under fire for its exhibition of van Gogh memorabilia which included, among other things, the infamous self-portrait which shows the artist with a bandaged ear. The souvenirs were sold as part of an exhibition of some of the artist’s most famous works.

According to a CNN report, the gallery – located at Somerset House in central London, which had chosen socks, scarves, puzzles, postcards and printed souvenirs of van Gogh’s best paintings – has now removed some memorabilia from its shop of gifts, after being called out on social media for being insensitive.

It is understood that the gallery sent a statement to CNN acknowledging ‘the concerns over a small number of items available in The Courtauld Gallery’s shop and online store’.

“The Courtauld takes mental health very seriously. It was never the intention of The Courtauld to present an insensitive or dismissive attitude towards this important subject by storing these items,” the statement read, as mentioned in the report.

“The objects in question represent only a small fraction of those made available as part of the exhibition’s collection. In light of these concerns, the items will no longer be sold in our stores,” he continued.

Previously, critics had criticized the gallery’s attempt to exploit sanity, undermining the struggles the artist experienced during his lifetime, which ultimately led him to die by suicide in 1890, at age 37 years old.

Items on sale included a bar of soap, advertised as ideal for a “tortured artist who loves fluffy bubbles”, and an “emotional first aid kit”, which is marketed as “a box of sound emergency advice for 20 key psychological situations”. .

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Charles Thomson, the co-founder of artist group Stuckist, has been cited as telling Daily mail“Suicide is no joke and mental illness is no joke. It’s superficial, mean and insensitive. What’s next? Van Gogh’s suicide gun?

Art critic David Lee, editor of jackdaw magazine, was also quoted as saying: ‘I can’t believe this isn’t someone in the attempt at the marketing of tasteless humor in the pub after work. Would they, for example, be ready to sell pencils in the shape of a fake leg at a Frida Kahlo exhibition? For context, Kahlo, a Mexican artist, had lost a leg to gangrene.

The gallery organizes its ‘Van Gogh. Exhibition of self-portraits until May 2022.

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