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Van Gogh: Up Close (National Gallery of Canada) Hardcover – March 27, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cornelia Homburg, formerly chief curator at the Saint Louis Art Museum, is an independent art historian and curator living in France.
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Product Details

  • Series: National Gallery of Canada
  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300181299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300181296
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 9.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #750,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Hughes on June 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's a pity that the admittedly ambiguous title of this volume has disappointed some readers' expectations and left them frustrated and dissatisfied. I confess that I myself did not know quite what to expect when I first opened it up, but it is quickly apparent from the first sentences one reads (if one bothers to read the "Sponsor's Foreword") that the subject of the book is not going to be close-up views of Van Gogh's paintings, but views of Van Gogh's close-up paintings. He made a great number of such close-ups, usually of natural elements like insects, flowers, and tree trunks, and that is one of the two major focusses of the exhibition. The other is a number of paintings, mostly landscapes, in which he has a foreground close-up and then lengthens the perspective out to encompass middle-ground elements and finally meets a fairly high horizon. As a theme for an exhibition and book I found this original and compelling. The book is not exactly an exhibition catalogue in the usual sense, but a compilation of lavishly (and excellently--my copy had no problem with blurred reproductions) illustrated essays on the topic designed to accompany the exhibition, which was arranged by the National Gallery of Canada and was first at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (February to May) and then in Ottowa (May to September, 2012).

The reviewer Grady Harp has already provided a succinct summary of the contents, and I can only agree with his assessment that this is one of the most interesting of recent art books.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Produced as a catalogue to accompany a traveling exhibition between Philadelphia and the National Gallery of Canada, this is one of the more interesting art monographs to be placed before the public lately. Instead of the `stand back and absorb the painterly fluidity' approach to viewing Van Gogh's paintings, this book encourages the viewer to appreciate the artist's obsession with the details and close up views of his subject matter - a technique that aids in the aura of rich glow his works convey.

"I...am always obliged to go and gaze at a blade of grass, a pine-tree branch, an ear of wheat, to calm myself," Vincent van Gogh wrote in a letter to his sister, Wilhemina, in July of 1889. An artist of exceptional intensity, not only in his use of color and exuberant application of paint but also in his personal life, van Gogh was powerfully and passionately drawn to nature. From 1886, when van Gogh left Antwerp for Paris, to 1890 when he ended his own life in Auvers, van Gogh's feverish artistic experimentation and zeal for the natural world propelled him to radically refashion his still lifes and landscapes. With an ardent desire to engage the viewer with the strength of the emotions he experienced before nature, van Gogh radically altered and at times even abandoned traditional pictorial strategies in order to create still lifes and landscapes the likes of which had never before been seen.

In early 1886 Van Gogh arrived in Paris from the Netherlands and came face to face with a revolutionary new way of painting. For the first time he was exposed to the art of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, which compelled him to revise his painting in both content and style.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Reich Claude on April 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the title, I imagined that, at last, we would have an artbook with high-quality magnified details of the artworks exhibited in this show (which, from Canada, will travel to Philadelphia). Unfortunately, this is not the case: granted, many works are seldom reproduced in other publications, so it is an opportunity to discover lesser-known landscapes or still-lifes by the Dutch master, but the reproductions themselves are at best average, some being even literally blurred. Quite a disappointment in this respect for such a major VanGogh exhibition.

As far as the essays are concerned, most of them are lengthy and do not bring forth any grounbreaking information, except maybe on the artist's technique.

On the whole a disappointment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Ann on April 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I LOVE this book and often look at it just because the artwork is so beautiful and to calm my mind when I am anxious. I read an Amazon review before purchasing this book (but bought it anyway) that said they thought the photos were unclear. I think that reviewer was mistaking blurry photography with Van Gogh's artistic style which is often soft, dreamy, and romantic. If you are a Van Gogh fan, I think you will like this book and you can't beat the price.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Julian on February 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this as a birthday present for my girlfriend. She only mentioned him once but I knew she would be surprised to see it. She has gone back into it several times and thumbed through the pages, enjoying his work. English is not her first language so she has a little trouble with the text. This is a good quality, well-produced collection. I gave it 5 stars because my girl friend likes it so much.
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Van Gogh: Up Close (National Gallery of Canada)
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