Van Gogh: His Life and His Art

David Sweetman, Author Crown Publishers $30 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-57406-5
Sweetman's engrossing biography releases us from a narrow view of Van Gogh's life. Whatever the exact nature of the painter's mental illness, ``the works themselves are gloriously, happily `sane,' '' observes this British journalist who reports on the art scene. While many would force Van Gogh into the role of modern artist/rebel/martyr (overlooking his fidelity to the inspiration he derived from such artists as Jules Breton and Ernest Meissonier), Sweetman avoids this trap. His shrewd judgments of the paintings are anchored in the events of Van Gogh's life and in art scholarship of the last 20 years. The story he tells may be familiar, nevertheless, he delves into the sources to flesh out major and minor episodes at every stage of Van Gogh's erratic trajectory. The result is an intimate, often surprising portrait of an obscure suicide who posthumously achieved his most fervent desire--to make art for ordinary people. Sketches, graphics and color reproductions are interspersed with the narrative. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1990
Release date: 07/01/1990
Genre: Nonfiction
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