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Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist Hardcover – August 14, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up-This compelling book begins with van Gogh's boyhood and traces the various career paths (art dealer, missionary) he pursued before dedicating himself to painting. The authors draw on the artist's voluminous correspondence with his brother Theo to elicit his thoughts and feelings, providing glimpses inside the head of this most unusual person. The use of his own phrases enlivens the text: "The more I am spent, ill, a broken pitcher, the more I become an artist, creator-." His passionate dedication to his work-living on nothing but coffee and bread for days, sacrificing his physical and mental health for the sake of art-was extraordinary. Largely unappreciated in his own lifetime, he was certain of the value and importance of his work, yet still a bit apprehensive of even the slight bit of success that came near the end of his life. The infamous incident with the ear is included as part of an overall portrait, and varying theories as to his so-called madness (a rare form of epilepsy, psychological traumas from childhood) are presented. In addition to a few black-and-white family photographs, the volume has an eight-page insert of fine-quality, full-color reproductions of the artist's works. This outstanding, well-researched biography is fascinating reading.

Robin L. Gibson, Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 7-12. Greenberg and Jordan, authors of titles such as Chuck Close Up Close (1998) and Frank O'Gehry: Outside In (2000), offer yet another outstanding artist's biography. In elegant, captivating language, they debunk myths about Van Gogh as lunatic and loner. Following his life story from birth to death, they describe the artist as an irascible, stubborn, and erratic member of a family that supported him through aborted attempts to become an art dealer and a preacher, before he finally settled on painting, a career fully supported by his brother Theo, with whom he lived in Paris. Also detailed are Van Gogh's years of drinking and schmoozing among the greats of the Montmartre art scene, organizing exhibitions, enjoying great friendships with other artists, and finally moving to the south of France, where he hoped to start an artist's collective. The authors do a remarkable job of presenting Van Gogh's complex personality (described by his brother as "gifted, delicate, and tender" and "cruel and hard-hearted"); his periods of manic energy; and the ear incident, in a straightforward, even understated way, showing that he was not "crazy," but rather suffered from epilepsy. They also help readers look at the painter's work, and at art in general, discuss the artist's motivations and techniques, and bring readers up-close with immediate, moving scenes of Van Gogh at work in the fields as he strove to paint his "high yellow note." An exceptional biography that reveals the humanity behind the myth. Reproductions, a glossary, and other appended material will help this find cross-curricular support. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1100L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 14, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385328060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385328067
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,898,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on June 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
This biography of Van Gogh is beautifully written. It tells his story cradle to grave, from his being christened as the namesake of a brother who had died to his taking his own life in loneliness and despair. In between we learn of his having tried out various professions, including the priesthood and having come to his vocation by himself. His fierce dedication, his unending love affair with his own work led to the creation of some of the great masterpieces of 'Western Art'.
The writers skillfully interweave passages from Van Gogh's correspondance with younger brother and financial supporter Theo in telling the story. Van Gogh's passionate and profound, his painfully beautiful letters are in themselves a great masterpiece.
The writers tell us the story of someone who so much needed and wanted to love, and who was rejected more than once. He was forced to content himself with his Art and with Nature.
They are wonderful in describing the landscapes of Van Gogh's life from Brabant in childhood to Arles and Saint- Remy at the end.
Although this work is written for a 'young audience' I believe that anyone who wishes a relatively brief but truly outstanding biography of Van Gogh will enjoy this work.
The volume also contains in a most tasteful way pictures of the artist, his family and reproductions of some of his greatest work.
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This is a pretty heavy book and my ten year old is a little tired of the gloom and despair that goes along with Vincent's life story. I blame myself mostly for picking this artist, but I honestly didn't know how sad his entire life was. Be warned that it has some very adult topics and that Vincent's depression seems to be something he struggled with his whole life.
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Format: Hardcover
Vincent Van Gogh only painted for ten years of his life but his paintings are still compelling to modern audiences. This biography of the painter is directed to ages 10 and older and provides a discussion of not only his works, but why he went mad and why he cut off his ear. Letters from Vincent to his brother and patron explore his behaviors and thinking.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a window into the soul of the brilliant, driven VanGogh. If you've ever wondered what it's like to have a passion for something so that it becomes an all consuming fire inside oneself you will be able to see it in VanGogh's struggles as he fights to become accepted as an artist and a human being. A very good book indeed.
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This book is written for young readers. I wanted a quick introduction to Van Gogh without having to read his 600 letters to his brother or a 1,000 page biography. Going to a Van Gogh exhibition this weekend, I got what I wanted as pre-reading. More than what is on Wikipedia, but not a two week reading project. But be warned, it is a short, young reader book.
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I appreciated that this was a simple, quick read as I was visiting a special exhibit the next day. I enjoyed getting an insight into the person before seeing his art for myself. Could easily be read or enjoyed by an older child or teenager.
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Among the non fiction recommendations for the Common Core for Middle School, this book chronological follows the life of Vincent Van Gogh. Though aimed at young readers, the story is retold with truth and frankness. The author presents the life of Van Gogh from early childhood, emphasizing his emergence of an artist. Theo, Vincent's brother, demonstrates that through family, genius can survive. As an artist Van Gogh was prolific and instrumental in an artistic movement. The book is filled with information for the art student and for those who want to learn more about the artist.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My son used this book to help,with a 4th grade project/ report/performance. The book is nicely written, appears to be fairly comprehensive & isn't too complex. My son loved the fact that there was a timeline included, it helped him tremendously to simplify the information even further.
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