The compelling story of how Vincent van Gogh developed his audacious, iconic style by immersing himself in the work of others, featuring hundreds of paintings by Van Gogh as well as the artists who inspired him—from the New York Times bestselling co-author of Van Gogh: The Life
“Important . . . inspires us to look at Van Gogh and his art afresh.”—Dr. Chris Stolwijk, general director, RKD–Netherlands Institute for Art History
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.
About the Author
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Steven Naifeh studied art history at Princeton and Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum. Together with his late husband and co-author Gregory White Smith, he is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including Van Gogh: The Life. Their biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga won the Pulitzer Prize and inspired the Academy Award–winning film Pollock as well as John Updike’s novel Seek My Face. Naifeh, who is also an artist whose works are included in numerous museum collections, has been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and USA Today and has appeared twice on 60 Minutes. He lives in South Carolina.
“Continuing Steven Naifeh’s work that began with the landmark biography Van Gogh: The Life, his important new book, Van Gogh and the Artists He Loved, illuminates Van Gogh’s remarkable journey to becoming an artist. Richly illustrated, it inspires us to look at him and his art afresh by revealing his deep admiration and affection for the artists who inspired him.”—Dr. Chris Stolwijk, general director, RKD–Netherlands Institute for Art History, and co-author of Vincent’s Choice and Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night
“Vincent van Gogh—that great modern original—revered the earlier masters. In this illuminating book, Steven Naifeh juxtaposes individual Van Gogh paintings with works by more traditional artists whose subjects or styles inspired him. Again and again we see—beautifully stated—what makes the modern modern. But we also come to see, paradoxically, a less isolated Van Gogh. He’s knit into the community of a great tradition.”—Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, Pulitzer Prize–winning authors of de Kooning: An American Master and Francis Bacon: Revelations
Praise for Van Gogh: The Life
“[A] magisterial new biography.”—The New York Times
“Captivating . . . [Naifeh and Smith] bring a booming authorial voice and boundless ingenuity to the task.”—The Wall Street Journal
“An enormously compelling psychological study, one I savored long into the night—many nights—and could hardly wait to return to each day.”—The Dallas Morning News
“A tour de force of biography . . . containing new revelations about an already much-examined life.”—USA Today
“In every sense monumental.”—The Sunday Times (London)