Van Gogh

Van Gogh : The Life

4.1 (15,870 ratings by Goodreads)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "The definitive biography for decades to come."--Leo Jansen, curator, the Van Gogh Museum, and co-editor of Vincent van Gogh: The Complete Letters

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, who galvanized readers with their Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Jackson Pollock, have written another tour de force--an exquisitely detailed, compellingly readable portrait of Vincent van Gogh. Working with the full cooperation of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Naifeh and Smith have accessed a wealth of previously untapped materials to bring a crucial understanding to the larger-than-life mythology of this great artist: his early struggles to find his place in the world; his intense relationship with his brother Theo; and his move to Provence, where he painted some of the best-loved works in Western art. The authors also shed new light on many unexplored aspects of Van Gogh's inner world: his erratic and tumultuous romantic life; his bouts of depression and mental illness; and the cloudy circumstances surrounding his death at the age of thirty-seven. Though countless books have been written about Van Gogh, no serious, ambitious examination of his life has been attempted in more than seventy years. Naifeh and Smith have re-created Van Gogh's life with an astounding vividness and psychological acuity that bring a completely new and sympathetic understanding to this unique artistic genius.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review - The Washington Post - The Wall Street Journal - San Francisco Chronicle - NPR - The Economist - Newsday - BookReporter "In their magisterial new biography, Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith provide a guided tour through the personal world and work of that Dutch painter, shining a bright light on the evolution of his art. . . . What [the authors] capture so powerfully is Van Gogh's extraordinary will to learn, to persevere against the odds."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Brilliant . . . Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith are the big-game hunters of modern art history. . . . [Van Gogh] rushes along on a tide of research. . . . At once a model of scholarship and an emotive, pacy chunk of hagiography."--Martin Herbert, The Daily Telegraph (London)
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Product details

  • Paperback | 953 pages
  • 162 x 233 x 41mm | 1,256g
  • Random House Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, color; Illustrations, black and white
  • 0375758976
  • 9780375758973
  • 89,375

Review quote

"The definitive biography for decades to come."--Leo Jansen, curator, the Van Gogh Museum, and co-editor of Vincent van Gogh: The Complete Letters

"In their magisterial new biography, Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith provide a guided tour through the personal world and work of that Dutch painter, shining a bright light on the evolution of his art. . . . What [the authors] capture so powerfully is Van Gogh's extraordinary will to learn, to persevere against the odds."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Brilliant . . . Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith are the big-game hunters of modern art history. . . . [Van Gogh] rushes along on a tide of research. . . . At once a model of scholarship and an emotive, pacy chunk of hagiography."--Martin Herbert, The Daily Telegraph (London) "A tour de force . . . an enormous achievement . . . Reading his life story is like riding an endless roller coaster of delusional highs and lows. . . . [A] sweepingly authoritative, astonishingly textured book."--Los Angeles Times

"Marvelous . . . [Van Gogh] reads like a novel, full of suspense and intimate detail. . . . In beautiful prose, Naifeh and Smith argue convincingly for a subtler, more realistic evaluation of Van Gogh, and we all win."--The Washington Post "Captivating . . . Winners of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for their biography of Jackson Pollock, [Naifeh and Smith] bring a booming authorial voice and boundless ingenuity to the task and have written a thoroughly engaging account of the Dutch painter. Drawing on Van Gogh's almost uniquely rich correspondence . . . the authors vividly reconstruct the intertwined stories of his life and his art, portraying him as a 'victim of his own fanatic heart.' . . . Their fine book has the potential not only to reinvigorate the broad base of popular interest that Van Gogh already enjoys but to introduce a whole new generation to one of art history's most remarkable creative spirits."--Jonathan Lopez, The Wall Street Journal "Could very well be the definitive biography . . . In it we get a much fuller view of Van Gogh, owing to the decade Naifeh and Smith spent on research to create this scholarly and spellbinding work. . . . How pleased we should be that [these authors] have rendered so exquisitely and respectfully Van Gogh's short, intense, and wholly interesting life."--Roberta Silman, The Boston Globe "This generation's definitive portrait of the great Dutch post-Impressionist . . . [The authors'] most important achievement is to produce a reckoning with Van Gogh's occasional 'madness' that doesn't lose sight of the lucidity and intelligence--the profound sanity--of his art."--Richard Lacayo, Time
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About Steven Naifeh

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith are graduates of Harvard Law School. Mr. Naifeh, who has written for art periodicals and has lectured at numerous museums including the National Gallery of Art, studied art history at Princeton and did his graduate work at the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University. Together they have written many books on art and other subjects, including four New York Times bestsellers. Their biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga won the Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It also inspired the Academy Award-winning 2000 film Pollock starring Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden as well as John Updike's novel, Seek My Face. Naifeh and Smith have been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times, USA Today, and People, and have appeared on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Charlie Rose, and the Today show.
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Rating details

15,870 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 48% (7,541)
4 28% (4,395)
3 16% (2,528)
2 5% (793)
1 4% (613)
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