‘Mental illness is not a joke’: London gallery under fire for Van Gogh gifts

Vincent van Gogh he is perhaps equally famous for his sunflowers and his act of self-mutilation. Aside from his paintings, when people think of the artist, they also think of his hearing, or lack thereof.

But references to Van Gogh’s missing ear and mental health, in souvenirs for sale at the Courtauld Gallery in London have drawn criticism.

Currently showing a great exhibition of his workincluding his infamous bandaged-ear self-portrait, some of Courtauld’s products, such as a 6-pound ear-shaped eraser, have been called insensitive.

The range celebrating Van Gogh includes sunflowers galore, on socks, scarves and seed packets, as well as puzzles, postcards and printed memorabilia of his best-known self-portraits. But critics have attacked the gift shop’s items that highlight Van Gogh’s serious mental health crisis that culminated in his suicide.

By cutting off his left ear, after a fight with his fellow artist. Paul Gauguinthe Dutch painter became a legendary “tortured artist”.

As well as the eraser ear, visitors can purchase a £5 bar of soap, marketed as ideal for “the tortured artist who enjoys fluffy bubbles”. An “Emotional First Aid Kit”, priced at £16, is described as “a box of wise emergency advice for 20 key psychological situations”.

Some have been clearly impressed by the attempt at humor.

Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckist artist group, said: “Suicide is not a joke and mental illness is not a joke.”

“This is shallow, nasty and insensitive,” he said. he told the Mail on Sunday. “What’s next? Van Gogh’s suicide gun?

Art critic David Lee, editor of jackdaw magazinehe told the paper: “I can’t believe this isn’t some bland humor marketing attempt at the pub after work.”

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“Would you be willing, for example, to sell pencils in the shape of a fake leg to a Frida Kahlo exhibition?” he added, referring to the Mexican artist who lost a leg to gangrene.

Van Gogh, a heavy drinker, is believed to have been experiencing psychosis when he cut off his ear in 1888 while living in France, after a falling out with Gauguin. thought he had either bipolar disorder or temporal lobe epilepsy, he spent more than a year in the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Remy, and in 1890, at age 37, he shot himself and died two days later.

The Courtauld has been contacted for comment.

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