cover image THE YELLOW HOUSE: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin Side By Side

THE YELLOW HOUSE: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin Side By Side

Susan Goldman Rubin, , illus. by Jos. A. Smith. . Abrams, $17.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-4588-3

This intriguing introduction to two esteemed painters, published in association with the Art Institute of Chicago, spans two months at the end of 1888, when Gauguin accepted van Gogh's invitation to live and work at his yellow house in Arles. Laced with quotes from letters the artists wrote to others, Rubin's (Margaret Bourke-White) narrative underscores the contrasts between the duo's living and painting habits. For van Gogh, "Thick swirls of strong colors expressed his feelings—his love of nature, his joy in painting," while Gauguin "painted more slowly.... He spread the paints smoothly in careful shapes." Van Gogh painted from nature, Gauguin "from his imagination—feelings, fantasies, and dreams." The author's incisive, accessible analysis of some of the paintings created during their time together accompanies crisp reproductions of their work. Smith's (Circus Train) lifelike watercolor and gouache portraits effectively convey the distinctive characteristics of each man as well as the particulars of the setting and era. Sadly, their constant bickering, according to the author, eventually culminated in a quarrel that ended with van Gogh cutting off part of his own ear and precipitated Gauguin's departure from Arles. Rubin concludes with concise biographical sketches of each artist. This appealing volume will likely spark an interest in the artists' complete works. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)