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The World of Van Gogh, 1853-1890 by Robert…

The World of Van Gogh, 1853-1890 (1969)

by Robert Wallace

Other authors: Vincent van Gogh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Time-Life Library of Art

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I am always interested in Genius. It's fascinating, right? Those damned Geniuses – how do they...?

As for painting, for which I myself have zero facility, I collect (modestly according to my meager means), I lust (ooh, can I not get a Terry Wilkinson?), and I search out to sit in amazement.

I think most people see the Great Works on picture books, coffee mugs and mouse pads. What a lot of useless bullshit all that is. To see a masterpiece in person is to be confronted. SLAPPED. Ka-pow. That's the only way.

Traveling through Toledo, Ohio, one comes upon the Libby Gallery. Yes, of Libby Beans fame. Delicious, convenient and, judging by the collection the family amassed, lucrative. So what can you buy with all those beans? Go inside. Be surprised. Classic sculptures from ancient Rome, etc., and, of all things, a Matisse. That giftless scribbler, I thought, until I saw they had one, a woman with her thighs open, not nude but ooh, la la... I can faint merely recalling it.

See Van Gogh, if you can, in person, wherever he can be found. Maybe the best piece I have seen so far hangs just to the right of the main entrance of London's National Portrait Gallery. The colours are over sharp limes and wild blues with everything m o v I n g and don't be surprised to lose your carefully coiffed bouffant to the wind which leaps out at you from that spectacle, that masterpiece, that square canvas of genius.

This book is excellent. I am almost embarrassed to say that. A Time-Life book? Yes, go figure. Vincent's work, his life, his personality are exposed with patience, affection, compassion. Moreover is isn't mere biography, it's part art history, taking intriguing profiles of contemporary artists such as Gauguin, Pissaro, Vincent's love fuelled brother Theo, so that the atmosphere and influences that surrounded Van Gogh soon surround you as you read along, and finally, a new understanding emerges. I can't wait to see these paintings again with new eyes and deeper gratitude.

A real find, in the local thrift shop. You will need to look past the poverty of colour plates, the antiquated print quality, but the text is so redeeming, I wish I could press it into your palm and shout “Read it for his genius, this mad beautiful bastard,” – he's really complex, sincere, marvelous. And human. ( )
  LeonardGMokos | Nov 22, 2016 |
A great book about the troubled artist. Shows the evolution of his talent with the increasing mental anguish. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
Showing 2 of 2
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Wallaceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gogh, Vincent vansecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dam, Lize vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If there is one fact about Vincent Van Gogh that is well known, it is that he cut off his ear and gave it to a prostitute.
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Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colors and emotional impact. He suffered from anxiety and increasingly frequent bouts of mental illness throughout his life and died, largely unknown, at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Little appreciated during his lifetime, his fame grew in the years after his death. Today, he is widely regarded as one of history's greatest painters and an important contributor to the foundations of modern art. Van Gogh did not begin painting until his late twenties, and most of his best-known works were produced during his final two years. He produced more than 2,000 artworks, consisting of around 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches. Today many of his pieces—including his numerous self portraits, landscapes, portraits and sunflowers—are among the world's most recognizable and expensive works of art.
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