Starry nights, storm-heavy hayfields, sky-wheeling crows and sunflowers -- we’ve come to know the artist Vincent van Gogh through his paintings. The emotional turbulence and despair that powered every brushstroke; the ever more intense palette of colors splashed across each canvas; the unspeakable loneliness that emanates from his self-portraits. In this stunning, expansive new biography, Steven Naifah and Gregory White Smith (who co-authored the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Jackson Pollock: An American Saga”) illuminate more of van Gogh’s inner life than ever before. The authors not only make extensive use of archival material from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, but also delve deeply into a new edition of the artist’s letters, published in 2009. The result is an affecting, entertaining and highly readable immersion into the life of an artistic genius whose story is even more complex than we imagined. They also reintroduce a long-rumored but mostly forgotten alternate theory of his death at age 37.
Was it suicide, as accepted thought goes? Or an unfortunate accident, resulting from an altercation with local village boys? What role did Vincent’s relationships with teachers, with women, with other artists play in shaping his vision? How did his devoted brother Theo, an art dealer, sustain and support him through his most desperate times? Was Vincent’s life-long search for emotional connection ever realized in his art?
Steven Naifeh, co-author with Gregory White Smith of Van Gogh: The Life (Random House)
Naifeh and White will speak at LACMA on November 19th at 2:00 p.m. Event is free, no reservations. For more event information, click here.