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VINCENT VAN GOGH by Jan Greenberg

VINCENT VAN GOGH

Portrait of an Artist

By Jan Greenberg (Author) , Sandra Jordan (Author)

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-32806-0
Publisher: Delacorte

In this fine introduction to the life of van Gogh, Greenberg and Jordan (Frank O. Gehry: Inside Out, 2000, etc.) make excellent use of the artist’s letters to infuse the biography with his voice. After a brief prologue about a key moment in his work, the biography follows van Gogh’s life chronologically (with the dates covered given as part of each chapter title), followed by a relevant quote from a letter. Many chapters end on notes of anticipation, sometimes almost cliffhangers, leading the reader eagerly into the next phase of the painter’s life. Information about van Gogh’s personality, moods, and relationships is interwoven with descriptions of his progress in art to form a seamless whole. Two drawings and 17 color reproductions of his paintings from different periods illustrate the changes in his style as described in the text. The authors attain their goal stated in the introduction of getting “beyond the myth without losing touch with the power of its appeal.” They clarify the widely-known story about van Gogh cutting off his ear, all the while conveying the artist as a sympathetic man who suffered greatly but also recognized and took joy in his own talent. The biography focuses on van Gogh’s life rather than on a critical look at his work; those hoping for commentary on specific paintings will have to look elsewhere. But the reader who wants insight into the life of this remarkable painter will find it in this lively, beautifully written biography. (Biography. 11-14)