The Courtauld Gallery in London has recently come under fire for mocking mental health through their souvenirs for sale. The gallery is having its “Van Gogh Self-portraits” exhibition until May 2022. They put certain items on sale, online and in-person stores. The items include – an ear-shaped eraser, a bar of soap glorified as fit for “the tortured artist who enjoys fluffy bubbles” and an “emotional first aid kit” for “20 key psychological situations”.
The Dutch painter, Van Gogh, is world renowned for his work. Although his troubled life caused him great misery, it also brought out deep essence in his artistic work. The items on sale are somewhat directly linked with the artists’ troubled life. It is no secret that the painter had a mental illness, which later caused his death. The ear-shaped eraser imitates Gogh’s bizarre left ear cutting act. Apparently, the painter had an altercation with another artist, Paul Gauguin, after which he cut his ear.
The Courtauld Gallery sent a statement to CNN acknowledging the “concerns raised about a small number of items available in The Courtauld Gallery’s shop and online store”. The statement further read, “The Courtauld takes mental health extremely seriously. The Courtauld never intended to present an insensitive or dismissive attitude to this important subject by stocking these items”. They concluded it by declaring that they will no longer sell the items in question.
There is no clarification regarding what items they removed, but the eraser is unavailable for purchase on their online store.
Charles Thomson, a co-founder of the Stuckist art movement expresses to CNN that the sale of “insensitive” gifts is a reflection of the current attitude in artistic circles where “people want to be clever and trendy at the expense of having dignity in art.”
Art critic David Lee is the editor of The Jackdaw magazine. He shares with the Mail, “I can’t believe that this isn’t someone in marketing’s attempt at tasteless humor in the pub after work.”
Edvard Munch, Edgar Degas, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Francisco de Goya along with Van Gogh are among many creative artists who suffered from various mental illnesses.