Theo by Marie-Angelique Ozanne
The Other Van Gogh

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Synopsis

Would Vincent have been Vincent without Theo?

Theo: The Other Van Gogh is a revealing biography of Vincent's stubbornly loyal younger brother. Shedding light on their profoundly intimate relationship, born in boyhood, the authors tell the poignant story of two brothers who had a profound impact on the art world.

Theo van Gogh, like Vincent before him, followed in the family tradition of art dealing and joined Goupil & Cie, one of the leading international art dealers in 1873. Goupil, recognizing his ability, transferred Theo from The Hague to Paris in 1880, where he developed influential friendships with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Emile Bernard, and other emerging stars of the Parisian avant-garde. Shrewdly, Theo persuaded Goupil to exhibit Seurat, Signac, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Redon, Sisley and Degas, and purchased works by Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec for his own collection. His keen instincts regarding art would only be recognized long after his death when the world would discover and eventually greatly admire the artists he exhibited and supported.

In 1881, following a rupture with their father, Theo became Vincent's sole source of financial support despite his meager salary. Following the death of their father in 1886 Vincent and Theo lived together in Montmartre, the wild neighborhood in Paris that was home to scores of cafés and cabarets frequented by artists and writers. Theo's private life in Paris was extremely dissipated even by the Bohemian standards of the fin-de-siècle, and it was during this period that Theo presumably contracted syphilis, symptoms of which plagued him his entire life. Despite health problems and financial difficulties, he never deviated from his devotion and support of his brother. Their voluminous correspondence reveals Theo's encouraging words, giving his brother advice regarding his life and his art.

Backed by previously unpublished letters from the Van Gogh Museum archives, the publication of Theo brings a fresh eye to the family dynamics from which these two extraordinary beings emerged, and explores the unwavering, but complex affection between the two brothers. Once the younger brother who looked up to his successful elder but over time Theo became Vincent's caretaker and ally. If today we know the transcendent works of Vincent van Gogh, it is only because of Theo. Theo: The Other Van Gogh brings out of history's-and Vincent's shadow-a man as fascinating for his character and ability to love, as for his unique contribution to the history of art.

 

About Marie-Angelique Ozanne

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Ozanne is a journalist. de Jode is a Paris based critic for French magazines and newspapers.
 
Published May 1, 2004 by Vendome Press. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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In this readable and engaging biography, authors Ozanne and De Jode examine the complicated, passionate relationship between the Van Gogh brothers and pose the question: could Vincent have become the Van Gogh without his brother's financial aid and emotional support?

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