The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh

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Penguin Books Limited, 1997 - Art - 560 pages
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A new selection of post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gough's letters, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh put a human face on one of the most haunting figures in modern Western culture. In this Penguin Classics edition, the letters are selected and edited by Ronald de Leeuw, and translated by Arnold Pomerans in Penguin Classics.

Few artists' letters are as self-revelatory as Vincent van Gogh's, and this selection, spanning his artistic career, sheds light on every facet of the life and work of this complex and tortured man. Engaging candidly and movingly with his religious struggles, his ill-fated search for love, his attacks of mental illness and his relation with his brother Theo, the letters contradict the popular myth of van Gogh as an anti-social madman and a martyr to art, showing instead a man of great emotional and spiritual depths. Above all, they stand as an intense personal narrative of artistic development and a unique account of the process of creation.

The letters are linked by explanatory biographical passages, revealing van Gogh's inner journey as well as the outer facts of his life. This edition also includes the drawings that originally illustrated the letters.

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890) was born in Holland. In 1885 he painted his first masterpiece, The Potato Eaters, a haunting scene of domestic poverty. A year later he began studying in Paris, where he met Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Seurat, who became very important influences on his work. In 1888 he left Paris for the Provencal landscape at Arles, the subject of many of his best works, including Sunflowers.

If you enjoyed The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, you might also like 100 Artists Manifestos, available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'If there was ever any doubt that Van Gogh's letters belong beside those great classics of artistic self-revelation, Cellini's autobiography and Delacroix's journal, this excellent new edition dispels it'
The Times

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MSarki - LibraryThing

I first began my reading of these letters as a way to learn more about the art process, the way to creation coming from the mind of such a gifted artist such as Vincent Van Gogh. I also was interested ... Read full review

THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A new translation of van Gogh's ebullient letters (including some never before published), edited by the director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, revealing the painter to be an intensely ... Read full review

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About the author (1997)

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890) was born in Holland. He became an assistant with an international firm of art-dealers and in 1881 he went to Brussels to study art. After an unsuccessful love affair with his cousin he returned to Holland and in 1885 he painted his first masterpiece, The Potato Eaters, a haunting scene of domestic poverty. A year later his brother Theo, an art dealer, enabled him to study in Paris, where he met Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Seurat, who became very important influences on his work.
In 1888 he left Paris for the Provencal landscape at Arles, the subject of many of his best works, including -Sunflowers- and -The Chair and the Pipe.- It was here Van Gogh cut off his ear, in remorse for threatening Gauguin with a razor during a quarrel, and he was placed in an asylum for a year. On July 7, 1890 Van Gogh shot himself at the scene of his last painting, the foreboding -Cornfields with Flight of Birds, - and he died two days later.
Ronald de Leeuw has been the director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam since 1986. He trained as an art historian at the universities of Los Angeles, California, and of Leiden, The Netherlands. As a specialist in nineteenth-century painting, he has been responsible for numerous exhibitions in The Netherlands and abroad, including the 1990 Vincent Van Gogh Centennial retrospective in Amsterdam. Since 1990 Ronald de Leeuw has also directed the Museum Mesdag in The Hague, known for its fine Barbizon and Hague School holdings. In 1994 he was appointed professor extraordinary in the history of collecting at the Free University of Amsterdam.
Arnold Pomerans was born in 1920 and was educated in South Africa. He emigrated to England in 1948, and from 1948 to 1955 taught physics in London. In 1955 he became a full-time translator and has had just under two hundred major works issued by leading British and US publishers. Among the authors translated by him are Louis de Broglie, Anne Frank, Sigmund Freud, George Grosz, Jan Huizinga, Jean Piaget and Jules Romain.

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