By DREW GALLAGHER FOR FREE LANCE – STAR
Vincent Van Gogh committed suicide in 1890 at the age of 37. At the time, he was an impoverished, little-known, and devoid of technical skills artist who lived mainly on the generosity of his brother Theo, who was a renowned art dealer. Today, more than 130 years after his death, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest artists of all time, and his paintings, once unsold and traded for food, are regularly auctioned off at record prices.
In “Van Gogh and the Artists He Loved”, author Steven Naifeh describes Van Gogh’s career and the influences that influenced him. But what makes this book a must-have for any art lover are the spectacular photographic reproductions of the artists who influenced Van Gogh and the works he came up with in response to those influences. It is a book that you can repeatedly sit with and flip through its pages to savor the stunning visual effect. You, of course, get all of Van Gogh’s greatest hits, but you can also see work by other artists that you might not be so familiar with. (Sorry to sound like a late night informant.)
One chapter which I found particularly revealing, and which is sure to resonate with readers of The Free Lance – Star’s Books page, was the influence of French authors on Van Gogh. He was an avid reader (much to the dismay of his pious parents) and wrote extensively on the merits of Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac and Emile Zola. Naifeh believes Maupassant and Zola’s descriptions influenced one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, Starry Night, and quotes a passage from Zola.