Hopefully you have all obtained your copy of Van Gogh the Life and have started your daily reading to get through the book in time for our Book Club meeting in August. I am immersed in the book and have to pull myself away from it most nights.
I find this biography to be one of the best written artist biographies I have ever read. The authors, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, have done an incredible job of bringing Van Gogh to life. So many of the artist biographies I read spend much of their time explaining the broader art history of the artist’s time and are limited in the intimate personal details they can provide about their subject. I’m sure this is often due to limited source materials, but it results in a somewhat impersonal understanding of the events of an artist’s life. Luckily for us, Van Gogh was a prolific, obsessive letter writer, and through these letters we are able to see right into his life and troubled emotions.
By now you will have read of Vincent’s difficult childhood and his already difficult relationship with his parents, who found him odd, distant and uncooperative. I found it interesting that, while most artists will show a propensity for art from a very early age, Van Gogh didn’t. There were perhaps hints of an artistic temperament (if there really is such a thing), but certainly no early drawings or interest in art. Even after going to work for his uncle, a famous art dealer, Vincent didn’t exhibit any interest in creating art. Learning about Van Gogh’s youth, it’s almost surprising to me that he became an artist. I won’t spoil anything if you haven’t gotten there yet, but his journey to become an artist is a painful one.
I’m looking forward to our discussion at the book club meeting to find out if you identify with Vincent’s early life.
Please share any thoughts you have about the book so far in the comments below.
Please send a photo of yourself with the book for our reader wall to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve only received a few pictures so far – send yours today!
Book Club Meeting
Online, Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific
If you haven’t already registered for the meeting, you can do so at: