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Conversations with Van Gogh: In His Own Words

Conversations with Van Gogh: In His Own Words (Hardback)

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Vincent van Gogh is best known for two things - his sunflowers and his ear-cutting. But there are many other ways of knowing this remarkable son of a Dutch pastor, who left his chill homeland for the sunshine of Arles in the South of France; and left us over a thousand frank letters of struggle and joy, to help us glimpse his inner world. Vincent came late to painting after spending time in London trying to be a Christian missionary. And though he is now amongst the most famous artists on earth, in his day, no one saw him coming - apart from one French art critic called Aurier. It is possible he never sold one of his paintings in his life time. When he discovered the sun in Arles, he also discovered energy. Yellow for him was the colour of hope, and in his last two years he painted almost a canvass a day. But hope ran out on July 27th , 1890 when he shot himself, aged 37. He was at this time six months out of a mental institution, where perhaps he experienced his greatest calm. Vincent compared himself to a stunted plant; damaged by the emotional frost of his childhood. 'Conversations with Van Gogh' is an imagined conversation with this remarkable figure.

But while the conversation is imagined, Van Gogh's words are not; they are all authentically his. "Speaking with Vincent - which he insists on being called - was a privilege,' says Simon Parke. 'He's endlessly fascinating, contradictory, moving, funny, insightful and tragic. There's a fury in him; but also a great kindness. He found harmony in human relationships elusive; his love life was a painful shambles. But with colour, he was a harmonic genius, and he has much to say about this. And here's the thing: for a man who killed himself - he died in the arms of his brother on July 29th - spending time with him was never anything but life-affirming.'

Art, Fashion & PhotographyArt monographs, history & theoryArt formsPainting & paintingsArt, Fashion & PhotographyArt monographs, history & theoryArt treatments & subjectsIndividual artists, art monographsArt, Fashion & PhotographyArt monographs, history & theoryHistory of art / art & design stylesHistory of art: c 1800 to c 1900 Publisher: White Crow Books Ltd Publication Date: 01/04/2010 ISBN-13: 9781907661303  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: To Order. Estimated despatch in 1-3 weeks.  

Vincent shot himself at the age of 37, probably without having sold a picture. His brother Theo said he was his own enemy, and this was true; but he also came from nowhere in the learning of his craft, and in death, took the art world by storm. Born to a dour protestant pastor and emotionally cold mother, Vincent likened himself to a young sapling struck too soon by frost. His early desire to be a Christian missionary faded, as he turned to drawing to make something of his life. His highest ambition in his twenties and early thirties was to be a book illustrator. He lived in relative poverty, supported financially by his brother Theo, who worked for the same art dealers who had sacked Vincent. His life was nomadic, taking in the Hague, London, Brussels, Antwerp, Paris, Arles and Auvers-Sur-Oise. It also included a few months in a mental asylum at St Remy, after he had cut off his ear and delivered it to his favourite prostitute. His love life was a series of disasters, denying him the family he so desired and his pipe was a refuge, as often was alcohol which he said 'stuns the pain.' In Paris, he rubbed shoulders with Seurat, Cezanne and Toulouse-Lautrec, but was never regarded as a talent to watch. It was only when he travelled south to the sunshine of Arles that he really came alive, and almost all his famous paintings were produced in the last year of his life here, and then in St Remy and Auvers. His idea of an artistic community in the Yellow House with Gaughin did not work out; but his emergence as a colourist was startling. 'I dream of painting and then I paint my dream,' he said. 'I experience a moment of frightening clarity when nature is beautiful.' Vincent - as he always signed himself, never calling himself 'Van Gogh' - had just received his first good review when he shot himself, dying two days later in Theo's arms. As Theo said, he was his own enemy; though in death a friend to millions beneath each starry night.

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