This pocket-sized book packs a lot of information, visual and textural, about one of the best-loved artists of the 20th century. One of the Essentials
series, which also includes Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali, and Edward Hopper, it comes off as a kind of art-world Cliff Notes, but beautifully and colorfully designed. The book purports to tell you everything you need to know to sound smart about Van Gogh. To that end, the text is pre-underlined (the key words and information are italicized, sometimes eccentrically, as in "Vincent was no virgin
"); there are lists of bulleted phrases containing highlights of different aspects of Vincent's short career; and "sound bytes"--pithy quotations--are highlighted by blue strips.
There is a reason why Vincent Van Gogh's passionate story has been the subject of best-selling potboilers and Hollywood sagas. He sold only one picture during his wretched lifetime, he committed suicide at age 37, he was fervently religious and callously rude, and he cut off part of his ear. And the 20th-century auction prices for paintings like Irises (more than $50 million in 1987) have made front-page news around the world. This little book relates Vincent's life, his anchoring relationship with his younger brother Theo (to whom he wrote 800 lucid and eloquent letters on art), and his painting. Unfortunately, author Ingrid Schaffner's distorted, flip style ("Theo is not too thrilled," that Vincent "hangs out in divey bars," "Today Van Gogh would be seriously on Prozac") might be offensive to readers of even moderate empathy or serious interest. But for an instant course in Van Gogh, this book is probably your best bet. --Peggy Moorman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.