Vincent van Gogh Book Review – Captivating, Mesmerizing, Riveting

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), from Taschen, brings the life of the Dutch painter to the pages through a progression of his development as a painter from his early dark works to the vivid brilliance of his time in Arles.

From Taschen Publishers Basic Arts Series, and author Ingo F. Walther, Vincent van Gogh, offers the readers the opportunity to visit the captivating and breathtaking artistry by thumbing through the 95 pages that showcase more than 100 reproductions including, his most famous mesmerizing dreamy works, from his time in the South of France, and some call his period of insanity or learn of the painter, the person, and the development of his craft, through personal quotes.

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The oversized specialty book is divided into five sections: "Half Monk, Half Artist The Beginnings in Holland 1881-1885;" "Apprenticeship Years in Paris Antwerp and Paris 1885-1888;" "The Explosion on Colour Arles 1888-1889;" "Painting as Life Saint-Remy and Auvers 1889-1890," and "Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890 Life and work."

The section titles are essentially self-explanatory as to van Gogh's journey as he developed his ability to express his vision on the canvas.

The first sentence of the first section is a shocking a sad truth of an artist's whose works commands hundreds of millions and is sought after by the world's most astute collectors, "Vincent van Gogh was a complete and utter failure in everything that seemed important to his contemporaries. He was not able to start a family, earn his own living or even keep his friends. Yet in his paintings he was able to set down his own concept of order against that of the chaos of reality around him."

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The work of van Gogh is the expression of his soul and in the beginning of his work in Holland, his work reflected this sadness. The belief that everyone around him was achieving some stability and as the son of a Protestant preacher and an art dealer, he tried each of these options and to those around him, and himself he failed.

As the author Ingo Walther explains, van Gogh finalized his artistic pursuits, moved away from home, and received help from his cousin Anton Mauve and while their friendship was turbulent, van Gogh received tutelage under his direction which aided his pursuit. The work he produced during this time is dark, the colors, matted, and dark and reflect another's style. The influence of Mauve is clear. The work is absent of the short brush strokes that his later works reflect. He painted, during this time, what surrounded him, and even then, his imagination was limited to his world.

Readers are also introduced to his methodology, his sketches are also featured alongside his more famous pieces, what he envisioned the painting to become before he chose the creation colors.

The Basic Art series Vincent van Gogh features all the works that museum visitors gather around to view, "Sunflowers," "The Starry Night," "Wheat Field in Cypresses at the Haute Galline near Eygalieres," and reproductions from collections around the world are featured in the pages.

Vincent van Gogh would not be complete without explaining his severe depression, and in the time, he lived, his bi-polar bouts of elation, paranoia, and broken sadness, were considered benchmarks of insanity and incurable.

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A death sentence, it seemed for the painter, who felt this, a disease of his mind was a personal attack, a taunting inner demon who pointedly presented his failures. The mind track of life, his failures, repeated, repeated until van Gogh, unable to find a lifeline, even in his religious upbringing in which he did find some solace, cut off his ear.

During the height of his hospitalization, he entered the mental facility voluntarily, between his letters, charcoal sketches, and paintings, it was the most productive time in his life. Possibly as he was free from outside ridicule or worse, jealousy of others who witnessed the explosion in his ability to translate his visions onto canvass with such vividness and clarity that it ignited the intensity of emotions, willing to do anything to stop the painter from taking the spotlight. His inability to see his genius and live his moment only aided his enemies.

His episodes of depression and anxiety would eventually claim his life, when, in 1890, he committed suicide shortly after his 37th birthday.

Vincent van Gogh allows the readers to see beyond the beauty, splendor, and brilliance of the work and walk through an artist's life, understand his feelings of insecurity, the taunts and bitter, evil, words, of his peers, the beliefs of himself that were tainted by malicious tormented demons, driving him to his greatest expression and yet also his grave.

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The illustrations are breathtaking and for those who are unable to make a quick trip to a local museum to sit for a moment or an hour just soaking in the majesty of his work the book brings hours upon hours of artistic pleasure. Buy it and build a basic art series collection of the world's most famous artists.


Title: Vincent Van Gogh.

Author: Ingo F. Walther.

Publisher: TASCHEN.

Length: 95 pages, Hardcover.

ISBN: 978-3-8365-2736-1

MSRP: $19.95 (US).

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