A rarely exhibited painting by Vincent van Gogh, a companion piece to the famous "The Starry Night," is now on show as part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
"I did a landscape with olive trees and also a new study of a starry sky," van Gogh wrote from St. Remy, France, to his brother, Theo, in 1889.The oil on canvas, "Olive Trees," painted that year as was "The Starry Night," has come to the museum as part of a bequest from the estate of Betsey Cushing Whitney.
Its radiant blue skies above a tumble of blue peaks and luxuriant green foliage make a striking contrast with the dark turbulence of the better-known painting.
But they both show van Gogh at the point where he is turning from strictly objective rendering to embrace exaggeration "in the service of a more potent truth," Kirk Varnedoe, the museum's chief curator of the department of painting and sculpture, said.
"It's an incredible stroke of fate that these two pictures are now here, night and day reunited - one of the most famous paintings reunited with its `hidden' sibling," he said. The two van Goghs have not been seen together since 1905.
Varnedoe was commenting on the installation in the museum's galleries of five of the paintings bequeathed to the museum. In addition to the van Gogh, now hanging beside its companion piece, the new arrivals are:
- Paul Signac's 1891 "Fishing Boats in the Sunset."
- Pablo Picasso's 1901 "Self Portrait ."
- Paul Cezanne's 1898 "Turning Road at Montgeroult."
- Henri Matisse's 1904 "Study for `Luxe, calme, et volupte.' "
All these paintings belong to the early period of the historical span the museum covers, museum director Glenn Lowry said - "they all look forward to the founding of modern art" - and are now integrated into the collection among key works out on show in the galleries.