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New Book Reveals Much About Artist Vincent Van Gogh

By John Ostapkovich

Philadelphia (CBS) – A new biography tackles one of the world’s most-revered and least-understood painters, Van Gogh.

The book, Van Gogh: The Life is by the duo that also wrote a definitive bio of Jackson Pollock. In Van Gogh, co-author Steven Naifeh, says they found the three keys to something worth researching for 10 years: an important artist with a well-documented and interesting life.

“There’s nothing that suggests that great art has to come from nice, easy people. In this case, we all know from the fact that he cut off his ear that this was not a normal person. He was also self-committed to an insane asylum so it’s hardly a revelation that Van Gogh was mentally ill.”

The book tracks a turbulent life, with much friction with family, until near its end Van Gogh’s work impressed a writer whose gushing coverage propelled his genius into fame and fortune, not long before his slipped into that starry night forever.

  • Wilfred Niels Arnold Ph.D.

    The recent publicity spree attending the book “Vincent van Gogh: the life” by Naifeh and Smith is remarkable. From what we have heard from the popular media, their book seems to be full of “rediscoveries.” In particular, the rumor that two young boys shot Vincent van Gogh has been around for decades. See for example “Vincent van Gogh: Chemicals, Crises, and Creativity” by Wilfred N. Arnold, published in 1992. As described on page 259, the rumor was first recounted to Arnold by Professor John Rewald, — both of us professed no belief in its accuracy. There was nothing substantive to support the rumor then, and Naifeh and Smith offer nothing now. The publicity campaign by Random House, Naifeh, and Smith needs to be judged against the scholarship of others.
    Wilfred Niels Arnold Ph.D.

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