November 15th, 2007 5:33 pm | by Stephen Marc Beaudoin News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Portland, Say Hello to... Vincent!


The Portland Art Museum has some serious bragging rights.

The Ox-Cart, the priceless Vincent van Gogh canvas that PAM was gifted last summer from a Roseburg, Oregon, family, goes on public view this Saturday. According to PAM representative Beth Heinrich, the work is “the first and probably the only van Gogh painting in a public institution in the Northwest.” Score!

In an interview yesterday with Portland Art Museum director Brian Ferriso, the director spoke about some of the successes of his first year at the Museum. He specifically highlighted new major acquisitions, the van Gogh canvas among them.

Then he said “let's have a look at the Van Gogh” and, in his corner office of the PAM Mark Building, we sauntered over casually to behold the work: a brooding, dark-textured canvas featuring an ill-looking ox on unsteady legs, pulling a heavy load. Ominous crows loom close by.

“You can almost hear the creaking of the ox's bones,” Ferriso said.

The painting has an interesting history. Owned by Fred and Frances Sohn since 1960, the painting had previously traveled the world with stops in NYC's Museum of Modern Art, The Hague and the Rijksmuseum. According to the Museum,
“Fred Sohn grew up in Germany and was among the fortunate members of his extended Jewish family who survived the Holocaust. Frances was raised primarily in New York City where great art museums were part of her childhood. The couple, married for 67 years, received this painting from Frances' parents, Cora and Julius Fohs, in 1960. Her father purchased the painting in 1950.

The van Gogh painting is the most valuable gift to the Museum since Portland residents and long-time Museum patrons Roger and Laura Meier gave a landmark suite of Toulouse-Lautrec prints, Les Elles, in 2003.”

The van Gogh is on view starting Saturday, Nov. 17, through Jan. 1, 2008 in the Geary Gallery of the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. After that short stint it will be removed for conservation and cleaning work and then, according to the Museum, be permanently reinstalled.

Big ups to Ferriso and the Portland Art Museum for getting this in front of the public so quickly. Now go see it already!

(photo above: that priceless Van Gogh, The Ox-Cart, courtesy of Portland Art Museum)
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