Van Gogh by Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith
The Life

68%

12 Critic Reviews

Naifeh and Smith are meticulous in documenting the disasters that followed him...Van Gogh is presented as such a head case that one has to wonder how it was he ever managed to create any of the masterworks for which he has become so loved.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

Vincent van Gogh created some of the best loved - and most expensive - works of art ever made, from the early The Potato Eaters to his late masterpieces Sunflowers and The Starry Night. He had worked as an art dealer, a missionary and as a teacher in England, and only in his late twenties did he begin a life that would be fundamental in shaping modern art. But when he died in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1890 at the age of thirty-seven he was largely unknown.


Written with the cooperation of the Van Gogh Museum, Pulitzer-winning authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith recreate his extraordinary life, and the inside of his troubled mind, like never before - and they put forward an explosive new theory challenging the widespread belief that Van Gogh took his own life. Drawing for the first time on all of his (and his family's) extensive letters, which offer exquisite glimpses into his thoughts and feelings, this is the definitive portrait of one of the world's cultural giants.

 

About Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith

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Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith are graduates of Harvard Law School. Mr. Naifeh, who has written for art periodicals and has lectured at numerous museums including the National Gallery of Art, studied art history at Princeton and did his graduate work at the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University. Together they have written many books on art and other subjects, including four New York Times bestsellers. Their biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga won the Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It also inspired the Academy Award-winning 2000 film Pollock starring Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden as well as John Updike's novel, Seek My Face. Naifeh and Smith have been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times, USA Today, and People, and have appeared on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Charlie Rose, and the Today show.
 
Published October 17, 2011 by Profile Books. 974 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography, Travel, War. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Nov 06 2011
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Critic reviews for Van Gogh
All: 12 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 7

Guardian

Above average
on Dec 21 2011

Naifeh & Smith bang on about clumsy beginnings...but this is to treat the life as an accumulation of data. It seems their researches blinded them somewhat. For example, they don't think much of the way he drew hands.

Read Full Review of Van Gogh: The Life | See more reviews from Guardian

Blog Critics

Below average
on Dec 28 2011

Naifeh and Smith are meticulous in documenting the disasters that followed him...Van Gogh is presented as such a head case that one has to wonder how it was he ever managed to create any of the masterworks for which he has become so loved.

Read Full Review of Van Gogh: The Life | See more reviews from Blog Critics

WSJ online

Above average
on Oct 15 2011

...the authors go overboard in their attempts to humanize the artist by assuming that his works constitute an exact reflection of his mood at the time he created them.

Read Full Review of Van Gogh: The Life | See more reviews from WSJ online

Book Reporter

Excellent
on Nov 23 2011

This is a beautiful book. Dotted with samples of van Gogh's artwork, readers are given a visual to go along with the extraordinary text.

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Globe and Mail

Above average
on Nov 18 2011

This long biography needs more analysis of van Gogh’s major works.

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LA Times

Above average
on Nov 20 2011

Picking up on a rumor that the artist was accidentally shot by young boys...Naifeh and Smith theorize that Rene Secretan...was the culprit...their treatment of the mystery seems to be as concerned with selling books as with getting at the truth.

Read Full Review of Van Gogh: The Life | See more reviews from LA Times

The Washington Post

Good
on Nov 21 2011

In beautiful prose, Naifeh and Smith argue convincingly for a subtler, more realistic evaluation of Van Gogh, and we all win.

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The Telegraph

Above average
on Oct 28 2011

...Van Gogh: The Life swallows archives whole to argue that the tempestuous, tragic, romantic figure of the artist we always had was the correct one...

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USA Today

Good
on Oct 27 2011

This is a well-written book, extraordinarily thorough and admirably restrained, even sympathetic to its subject.

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Seattle PI

Below average
on Dec 28 2011

While their arguments are presented with conviction, they are arguments, even though they have been around for some time, by no means are accepted by all Van Gogh scholars.

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Dawn.com

Above average
on Jul 29 2012

...van Gogh comes across in this biography as not much more than a depressed Dutchman with anger-management issues...

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Los Angeles Times

Excellent
on Jun 11 2012

Naifeh and Smith have re-created Van Gogh’s life with an astounding vividness and psychological acuity that bring a completely new and sympathetic understanding to this unique artistic genius...

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Reader Rating for Van Gogh
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