Field of dreams

Finally, after more than five long years of making phone calls, scheduling countless dinners and lunches, and after enduring many a sleepless night, Larry Nichols will finally be able to show off Vincent Van Gogh.

Nichols, curator of European Paintings and Sculptures before 1900 at the Toledo Museum of Art, is the brainchild of “Van Gogh: Fields,” the latest and single-most anticipated exhibition ever held at the museum. The Toledo Museum of Art will be the exhibition’s only North American venue.

The exhibit, which will showcase 22 paintings and five drawings by Van Gogh, is in partnership with the Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany. These particular works of Van Gogh focus on his love of landscapes and fields. Because Toledo is the only stop in America for Fields, those inside the Museum who have spent the last half decade putting it together are excited.

“Fields is without a doubt, going to be one of the top 10 exhibits we’ve ever had,” said Elizabeth Sudheimer, communications manager of the Museum. “There are so many good things about this exhibit — good for the museum, good for northwest Ohio and good for lovers of art.”

Nichols said the exhibit is one of the ultimate achievements for the Museum.

“These are fabulous paintings, each painting seems better than the next. We’ve got that kind of collection,” Nichols said. Fields will be examining one of Van Gogh’s most adored subjects, the landscape. The works — gathered from private owners throughout the world–were selected from each phase of Van Gogh’s career: from his initial activity in The Netherlands in the early 1880s, to his years in France, to his death in 1890, at age 37.

“The significance that the field had for Van Gogh is central to the exhibition’s intent,”Nichols said.

The Museum already owns two of Van Gogh’s pieces, most notably his piece, “Wheat Fields with Reaper, Auvers,” which is considered to be one of the finest examples of Van Gogh’s landscape.

The Museum, which in the past has been known to showcase the works of such legendary artists as Michelangelo and Peter Paul Rubins, has been getting ticket requests from tour groups from New York to Texas.

“This exhibit definitely has national implications,” Sudheimer said.

Later in March, the CBS “Sunday Morning” program is expected to pay the exhibit a visit.

Van Gogh, the Dutch artist sometimes known more for his eccentric behavior than his work. He only sold one painting while still alive. He still fascinates people, even if they are not art lovers, Nichols said.

“A lot of people who aren’t familiar with art feel very comfortable with Van Gogh,” Nichols said. “That’s why people come to see him. He’s a household name.”

But is Van Gogh the kind of household name like Michelangelo? Nichols thinks so.

“It’s fair to equate Van Gogh with Michelangelo, no doubt,” Nichols said. “He was that brilliant and that good. I’m not naivé enough to ignore the fact that people still love his work and want to see more of it.”