This Spanish import describes well-known events in van Gogh’s career
Readers first see him as a child and then as an assistant in his uncle’s art dealership, followed by a brief spell as a minister, during which he witnessed and drew mining families living in terrible poverty. Constantly dogged by disapproval and humiliation in the provincial towns, the painter moved to Paris. Here he was exposed to contemporary art movements that were central to the evolution of his distinctive style. His removal to the Arles countryside, the inspiration for many of his most famous works; his complicated friendship with Gauguin; and his eventual descent into madness and suicide are described and illustrated with García’s soft watercolor illustrations and a few reproductions. Sidebars provide background information about art movements, places, and people that influenced van Gogh. The entire book, including the concluding timeline, is in the first person. This is potentially confusing for children who have a limited understanding of chronology. Some of the statements seem particularly jarring owing to this choice of narrative voice. The timeline states: “in a moment of despair, [I] shot myself in the chest. Two days later, I died.” It will be obvious to most readers that he could not be writing when dead, and this adds a layer of absurdity that derails the otherwise factual tone.
Apart from the peculiar posthumous narration, a useful addition to the artist-biography shelf. (list of paintings, websites) (Biography. 8-10)