Van Gogh: The Man and the Myth

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2016▪  7:00 P.M.


In the last 100 years, Vincent Van Gogh has been one of the most well-known post-impressionist artists.  On May 11, at 7 pm, Devi Ormond, J. Paul Getty associate conservator of paintings, will provide an insightful overview of his life, particularly his use of color in his paintings and his relationship with other artists.

Ms. Ormond received her Masters in Paintings Conservation from the University of Northumbria, Newcastle, United Kingdom, and after working in several art institutions, she worked at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam where she researched and conserved paintings by Van Gogh as well as his Dutch and French contemporaries, such as Émile Bernard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Ms. Ormond also worked as a painting conservator at the Kröller–Müller Museum in the Netherlands, that she says may have the best collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world.

Ms. Ormond was born in Zambia of Irish parents and grew up in Kenya and other African countries, where her father’s work was located. While traveling to Europe with her family on vacations, she visited museums, and as young children like to do, she wanted to touch the art. That desire to touch something that was so beautiful, to have a deep level of intimacy with a work of art, led her to her career in painting conservation. “My desire to touch objects of beauty remained with me from when I was a child,” says Ormond.

Born in Groot-Zundert, Holland on March 30, 1853, Vincent Van Gogh was brought up on a religious and cultured atmosphere. He had a difficult time maintaining friendships, according to information from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh was highly emotional, lacked self-confidence and struggled with his identity and with direction. He believed that his true calling was to preach the gospel like his father, a preacher.  However, it took years and encouragement from his brother, Theo, before he began to focus on being an artist. Between 1860 and 1880, when he finally decided to become an artist, van Gogh had already experienced two unsuitable and unhappy romances and had worked unsuccessfully as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and a preacher in the Borinage (a dreary mining district in Belgium) where he was dismissed for overzealousness.  He decided to become at artist at age 27 and the art world was transformed.

Van Gogh’s legacy was a large body of art works: over 850 paintings and almost 1,300 works on paper. Ms. Ormond will present a view of van Gogh through her research and work on his paintings.

Admission to this program is $10 for California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks members with a $20 for non-members.

For additional information about the CMATO Speaker Series, contact Bill Mercer, Director of Operations,  at (805) 405-5240 or

The California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks is a non-profit organization committed to serving diverse audiences through the exhibition, interpretation, and exploration of the fine and design arts. CMATO is committed to educating the community about the visual arts and dedicated to establishing a premier art museum that will serve Ventura County and surrounding communities.  

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