Vincent van Gogh’s paintings look utterly unique—his vivid palette and boldly interpretive portraits are unmistakably his. Yet however revolutionary his style may have been, it was actually built on a strong foundation of paintings by other artists, both his contemporaries and those who came before him.
Now, drawing on Van Gogh’s own thoughtful and often profound comments about the painters he venerated, Steven Naifeh gives a gripping account of the artist’s deep engagement with their work. We see Van Gogh’s gradual discovery of the subjects he would make famous, from wheat fields to sunflowers. We watch him experimenting with the loose brushwork and bright colors used by Édouard Manet, studying the Pointillist dots used by Georges Seurat, and emulating the powerful depictions of the peasant farmers painted by Jean-François Millet, all vividly illustrated in nearly three hundred full-color images of works by Van Gogh and a variety of other major artists, including Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, positioned side by side.
Thanks to the vast correspondence from Van Gogh to his beloved brother, Theo, Naifeh, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is able to reconstruct Van Gogh’s artistic world from within. Observed in eloquent prose that is as compelling as it is authoritative, Van Gogh and the Artists He Loved enables us to share the artist’s journey as he created his own daring, influential, and widely beloved body of work.
“Van Gogh and the Artists He Loved is a profusely illustrated musée imaginaire, representing Vincent’s ideal museum. It is a volume which the artist would have loved to have had by his bedside table. Naifeh, along with his companion the late Gregory White Smith, was the co-author of the 2011 best-selling biography Van Gogh: The Life—so he draws upon great accumulated knowledge.” — The Art Newspaper