Thursday, February 22, 2007

A review of "The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles"

by Martin Gayford

The precision with which this book is written is very impressive. There is so much detail in this book, the author presents us with the type of house linens that Vincent purchased to decorate the Yellow House in Arles. He can describe the contents of the house even to what pictures were hanging on which walls, and what chair was placed where. But the details don’t override the narrative. I knew next to nothing about van Gogh before reading this. I knew what everyone knows. He cut his ear off, and he painted sunflowers.

Who knew that Vincent was a bigtime reader, and even possibly a synesthete? Literature was as important to his work as color, but you’d never guess it just by looking at their subject matter. The author of this book teases out the influences and the symbolism behind his works. Yes, SYMBOLISM. And even though Vincent’s references may have been obscure, the author easily connects the dots for us. He can be my Art History 101 prof any time.

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