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THE YELLOW HOUSE by Susan Goldman Rubin


Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin Side by Side

by Susan Goldman Rubin & illustrated by Jos. A. Smith

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2001
ISBN: 0-8109-4588-6
Publisher: Abrams

Post-Impressionists Van Gogh and Gauguin were two prodigiously talented painters whose short-lived collaboration (less than three full months in the late fall of 1888) was both astonishingly productive and fraught with conflict. Each artist had a highly individual vision, a powerful personality, and vastly different aesthetics. Rubin (There Goes the Neighborhood, p. 871, etc.) and Smith (Circus Train, not reviewed, etc.) have collaborated on this informed and engaging survey that’s well-timed to complement a show on the unique “Studio of the South” at the Art Institute of Chicago this fall. Vincent moved to Arles in the spring of 1888 and set up his studio in a sun-yellow house. He wanted another painter to join him in Provence and asked his brother Theo to convince Paul Gauguin to come to Arles. They were an artistic odd couple. Vincent was messy and impulsive. He worked plein aire and favored a quick, direct method of painting. He loaded his brushes with paint—some right out of the tube. Gauguin favored preliminary studies and careful, slow, detailed rendering. He preferred to work and rework his canvases in the studio. Artistic and personality differences coupled with Van Gogh’s increasing mental instability doomed the partnership. That notwithstanding, both painters work was infused with new vitality and greater power. This well-conceived introduction includes nearly a dozen fascinating pairings by Van Gogh and Gauguin, paintings of the same or similar subjects: Madame Ginoux, portraits of their own rush-seated chairs, landscapes. Smith’s own well-crafted watercolor paintings add welcome harmony to the painters’ dissonant relationship and make the book into a comprehensible, enjoyable whole. (author’s note, artist’s note, bibliography, art credits, brief biographies) (Nonfiction. 8-11)