Van Gogh and Gauguin by Debora Silverman
The Search for Sacred Art

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A leading scholar offers fresh insight into one of the key moments in modern art history

During the fall of 1888, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin lived and worked together in Provence. There in a yellow house at Arles, they changed the course of modern art. The relationship between the two painters came at a critical point in each of their careers, and began as a plan for a new community of artist-brothers, who would flourish in a harmonious condition of mutual support. While the two painters never achieved the goal of brotherly harmony, they nonetheless found their creativity spurred by association.

Until now, the Arles period has been interpreted in the light of the temperamental differences between the artists, culminating in the famous incident in which Van Gogh cut off part of his left ear lobe to spite Gauguin. In the shadow of the drama, their larger intellectual and theoretical debates at Arles have been neglected. Debora Silverman demonstrates here for the first time the great significance of their religious backgrounds and conflicts, with important new research on Van Gogh and Gauguin's respective Protestant and Catholic origins and formations, and fresh readings of the major pictures of the period. Both artists emerge in startling new ways, as the paintings they produced at Arles are reevaluated in the light of their divergent attempts to create a new sacred art.

About Debora Silverman

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Debora Silverman holds the Presidential Chair in Modern European History, Art, and Culture at UCLA. She is the author of Selling Culture and Art Nouveau in Fin-de-Siecle France.
Published November 15, 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 512 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Eschewing Gauguin’s allegorical, mystical images, the Dutch artist “expressed his persistent need to render an image so as to be as tangible, physically present, and textural as the canvas on which it was applied.” Analyses of carefully chosen and beautifully reproduced works reveal the lingering...

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The paintings of Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin continue to attract critical attention in books like Stephen Eisenman's acclaimed Gauguin's Skirt.

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