We're so excited in anticipation of the film ‘Loving Vincent’ which will be the world's first feature-length painted animation - due in cinemas later this year. 

Vincent van Gogh

The film (or animation) is about the life and the controversial death of Vincent Van Gogh told through the animation of his paintings and the characters who inhabit them.  Each one of the 56,000 frames of the film is a work of art in itself – each frame is a single hand-painted oil on canvas, painted in van Gogh’s post-impressionistic style.

The inspiration for the project came from a quote of van Gogh’s: 

"We cannot speak other than by our paintings."

Embracing this philosophy, the husband-and-wife team of co-writers and directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman have woven over 120 of van Gogh's most famous paintings into the film's plot to tell the story of his turbulent life. The people van Gogh painted are the characters in the film who recall stories and events often in an interview style.

Using van Gogh’s paintings and letters, Kobiela and Welchman were able to create a story which gives an insight on van Gogh’s life, career and his mysterious suicide. As the paintings provided the visual stimulus, the idea to create the whole film in van Gogh’s artistic style was born. 

Each frame a masterpiece

Over the past two years, the production team has been creating the animation in a studio outside Gdansk in Poland. Feeding into the studio are 91 artists located there, as well as Athens and Wroclaw.  They are painting the frame-by-frame images which join together van Gogh’s masterpieces.  The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam have been closely involved in providing guidance to the artists who are painting the 56,000 paintings - 12 paintings per second - in the post-impressionistic style in specially developed and patented workstations.

Van Gogh's paintings have the feeling of movement and life with their rich colours and many lines, so it will be completely captivating to watch them come alive in this film.

 Of the artists, Welchman has said "The painters also have to learn to act, none of the painters in the team has any animation experience. They have to realise it's not a pretty painting, it's a performance." Welchman also said that one of the team's most talented painters had to leave the project because "he was only painting individual paintings".

Ahead of the film’s launch there have been opportunities to get involved at Cannes Marche du Film,  Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and Glastonbury Festival.  The film is already gaining cult status and will undoubtedly pick up some gongs at the forthcoming awards ceremonies.

A troubled life

Despite his huge influence in the world of fine art that continues to this day, van Gogh was barely recognised as a great artist during his lifetime. Suffering from mental illness for most of his working life, the film focusses on the aftermath of van Gogh’s alleged suicide. 

Some art researchers have discredited the account of his suicide attempt and suspect someone else shot van Gogh. It seems there was enough evidence for this theory to be brought before a senior official at the Van Gogh Museum, who advised the enquiry should be dropped because it was "too controversial".

Today, van Gogh is rightly recognised as a genius and one of the most famous artists in fine art history. He also inspires some of the wonderful talent of our own ArtGallery artists:

We really cannot wait for the UK release of this visual masterpiece. For more information on the film see the trailer below and the website about the film’s development here: www.lovingvincent.com

Picture credit: Self portrait of Vincent van Gogh courtesy of Van Gogh Museum