Posted by: montclairlibrary | January 12, 2017

Van Gogh-a-go-go

Books about Vincent van Gogh, a list by the Friends of Montclair Library

On Tuesday, January 24, at 6pm, artist and scholar Marlene Aron will share stories about Vincent van Gogh’s childhood, places he lived, jobs he held before he became an artist and his life in Paris, as he discovered, socialized, exhibited and became friends with the new avant-garde artists of the day: the Impressionists.

Van Gogh’s turbulent and sometimes mysterious life has provided a fertile springboard for fiction writers trying to fill in the gaps. Warm up for Aron’s visit with one of these novels inspired by Van Gogh’s life and works. Whether you’re looking for sweeping historical fiction or slightly wacky comedy, there’s something here for everyone.

Lust for Life by Irving Stone (FIC STONE) (not at Montclair) – Stone’s classic novel “takes us from [Van Gogh’s] desperate days in a coal mine in southern Belgium to his dazzling years in the south of France.”
This book inspired the 1956 Kirk Douglas movie of the same name.

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore (FIC MOORE) – This strange but entertaining book is “a love story, the portrait of a young artist, the portrait of the young artist’s mysterious girlfriend, a thriller and a comedy, all about the color blue. The author takes on the Great French Masters; it is part mystery, part history (sort of), part love story, and wholly hilarious as it follows a young baker-painter as he joins the dapper Henri Toulouse-Lautrec on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the supposed ‘suicide’ of Vincent van Gogh.”

The Season of Migration: A Novel by Nellie Hermann (FIC HERMANN) – In December 1878, Vincent van Gogh arrives in the coal-mining village of Petit Wasmes in the Borinage region of Belgium as an ersatz preacher. What Vincent experiences in the Borinage will change him, as he learns about love, suffering and beauty, ultimately coming to see the world anew and finding the divine not in religion but in our fallen human world.

Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick (FIC BUNDRICK) (not at Montclair) – “Nineteenth-century French prostitute Rachel Courteau becomes drawn to one of her newest clients, Vincent van Gogh, and a true relationship blossoms until outside pressures threaten the safe haven they have created.”

The Last Van Gogh by Alyson Richman (FIC RICHMAN) (not at Montclair) – “Summer, 1890. Van Gogh arrives at Auvers-sur-Oise, a bucolic French village that lures city artists to the country. It is here that twenty-year-old Maurguerite Gachet has grown up, attending to her father and brother ever since her mother’s death. And it is here that Vincent Van Gogh will spend his last summer.” (Goodreads)

If you prefer to read non-fiction about Van Gogh’s life, these four books shed more light on the man and his art, from different angles:

Vincent by Barbara Stok (741.5 STOK) (not at Montclair) – “In this beautiful graphic biography, artist and writer Barbara Stok documents the brief and intense period of creativity Van Gogh spent in Arles, Provence.”

Vincent van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (759.9492 VAN GOGH) – An “an in-depth, accessible profile” drawing on new sources from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to illuminate “the influential artist’s turbulent life and genius works.”

Portrait of Dr. Gachet: The Story of a Van Gogh Masterpiece: Modernism, Money, Politics, Collectors, Dealers, Taste, Greed, and Loss by Cynthia Saltzman (759.9492 SALTZMAN) (not at Montclair) – Chronicles the painting’s one-hundred-year history, from its creation shortly before the artist’s death, to its sale for $82.5 million in 1990, [through] the lives of the thirteen extraordinary people who owned the painting and shaped its history.

The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles by Martin Gayford (759.9492 GAYFORD) (not at Montclair) – “Details a three-month period in 1888 when Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh shared a small yellow house in the south of France, describing how these two master artists worked together in Arles to create a stunning array of artistic masterpieces, an arrangement that lasted until Van Gogh suffered a devastating psychological crisis.”


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