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Vincent Van Gogh: A Biography

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Utterly engrossing account of legendary artist’s entire life from birth to his suicide.


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Utterly engrossing account of legendary artist’s entire life from birth to his suicide.

30 review for Vincent Van Gogh: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gauri

    I read this entire book twice and decided to do my book report about non-fiction in middle school on this book since I'd read it anyways. I didn't prepare any script or plan due to poor time management and fear of public speaking. I simply discussed Van Gogh's life chronologically and afterwards, explained the progression or evolution of his art throughout his career -- while staring at one specific person politely nodding as my lifesaver. I got an A! Unfortunately, there are not many other subj I read this entire book twice and decided to do my book report about non-fiction in middle school on this book since I'd read it anyways. I didn't prepare any script or plan due to poor time management and fear of public speaking. I simply discussed Van Gogh's life chronologically and afterwards, explained the progression or evolution of his art throughout his career -- while staring at one specific person politely nodding as my lifesaver. I got an A! Unfortunately, there are not many other subjects or speeches I've ever been able to breeze through or ever get an A on ever again. Thank gosh for participation and homework points, am I right?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt V

    Quality time with dad :) Vivid, engaging, and revealing, but also dated, indulgent, and frequently speculative. Meier-Graefe is self-admittedly writing more of a “drama” than an airtight account of Van Gogh’s life, but that disclaimer doesn’t always suffice, and his priorities often feel inconsistent. He also doesn’t care to hold your hand through art history; if a namedrop flies over your head, that’s on you I guess. It’ll happen a lot. The biography’s easily at its best when Theo’s in the frame, Quality time with dad :) Vivid, engaging, and revealing, but also dated, indulgent, and frequently speculative. Meier-Graefe is self-admittedly writing more of a “drama” than an airtight account of Van Gogh’s life, but that disclaimer doesn’t always suffice, and his priorities often feel inconsistent. He also doesn’t care to hold your hand through art history; if a namedrop flies over your head, that’s on you I guess. It’ll happen a lot. The biography’s easily at its best when Theo’s in the frame, probably because he and Vincent’s letters make for such rich source texts. Overall, a pretty rewarding read if you have the time/energy to grapple with conjecture. If not, the letters and paintings are enough on their own, just do those. PS. Goodreads’ list of quotes for this book includes one about madness/genius, but that’s misleading; the author is paraphrasing somebody else in that moment, and he goes on to explicitly debunk the correlation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shayla

    Certainly a dated text, but the prose is beautiful, if a bit florid. The author does not just really cold facts, but tries to get inside the head of Van Gogh and convey the story through his emotions; his joys and his agonies. It’s not exceedingly thorough, but I enjoyed the portrait this author has painted.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nosyba

    i dont know why the people in his ara didnot like his unique style in painting......anyway it's recomened to read this book about his life...and get the opportunity to see his great wark i dont know why the people in his ara didnot like his unique style in painting......anyway it's recomened to read this book about his life...and get the opportunity to see his great wark

  5. 5 out of 5

    Clau

    Even though it’s a a bit dated and a lot of research has surfaced from Van Gogh tumultuous life. This books paints a picture of what his life and thoughts might have been like. “At night he devoured literature as he had devoured light and color in the day. And he did it to balance the strain of the day and to fill his exhausted brain again somehow. “

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Elcik

    Is this fiction? Because the ending seemed like fiction.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Valerie Verveda

    It’s a very novel like story, reads easily, but also a bit complex in its narrative ness. Very picturesque, creates a feeling you are there

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    This book was written by German art critic Julius Meier-Graefe, and is probably best appreciated by those who have an initial understanding of the art, the techniques, and the artists who were peers of Vincent van Gogh. To me, the book was a mix of a brief biography of Van Gogh, and a discussion of the evolution of his art. It's not well suited to the audiobook format unless the reader (listener) is familiar with the art and artists mentioned. I got litle out of this book. This book was written by German art critic Julius Meier-Graefe, and is probably best appreciated by those who have an initial understanding of the art, the techniques, and the artists who were peers of Vincent van Gogh. To me, the book was a mix of a brief biography of Van Gogh, and a discussion of the evolution of his art. It's not well suited to the audiobook format unless the reader (listener) is familiar with the art and artists mentioned. I got litle out of this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura Spaulding

    Originally written in German and later translated into English in the 1930s, the biographical prose offered in this book is as captivating as the life story it has captured. I am left wondering why genius in its lifetime is often regarded as enemy, even to itself. Are they the ones who refuse to see reality as it is, or is it that the rest of us are simply incapable of seeing reality as it is? Following are some of my favorite quotes that I need to visit often as I seek to understand and love we Originally written in German and later translated into English in the 1930s, the biographical prose offered in this book is as captivating as the life story it has captured. I am left wondering why genius in its lifetime is often regarded as enemy, even to itself. Are they the ones who refuse to see reality as it is, or is it that the rest of us are simply incapable of seeing reality as it is? Following are some of my favorite quotes that I need to visit often as I seek to understand and love well the genius in my life. The very most piercing words being Vincent’s own... “He took ideas for facts.” “And if he once took to something, he stuck with it.” “What was strength in Theo, was weakness in Vincent.” “He was tempted to assume the brutality they expected him of, and then they were surprised.” “Simplicity that was not so simple.” “True visionaries are always blind.” “If I cease to search or think, then I will be lost indeed. That’s how I see it all. The main thing is to just go on, but you will ask what my real aim is. Well, my aim will assume a more definite shape just as a drawing becomes a sketch, and a sketch a picture.” “Whether we like it or not, you must join your lot and I mine. We can’t help one another like two people who are on the same side…if we meet at all it would be in a hail of bullets. My bad temper is a bullet, not aimed at you my brother but at the enemy in general in who’s ranks you happen to stand. I don’t blame your offensive superiority as aimed intentionally at me, but you just fire at the barricade and you think you’re doing good service. And I happen to stand behind the barricade….Can you blame the clouds because some of the vehicles have positive and others have negative electricity? Of course men aren’t clouds. Is it your determination or blind destiny which divides us into opposite camps.” “Art for Vincent was the only means of resolving the tension His mind and soul experienced.” “It was very jolly to have such a brother for all his rural roughness and crudities were really just super imposed colors which contained the most luminous qualities. Perhaps the public would never recognize him. Perhaps his art would never attain to the statue of a man. Both of these were more than likely, but whatever values he created would outlive any theory of painting- that was certain.”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Greta

    In preparation for our upcoming trip to the The Netherlands and our visit to the Vincent Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, I appreciated Meier-Graefe's biography of this favorite Dutch son. His account is full of warmth between them, a summary of art in the late 19th century and a study of the complex relationships among the artists who had an impact on the Van Gogh brothers. The inclusion of 61 plates of Van Gogh's work is helpful. In preparation for our upcoming trip to the The Netherlands and our visit to the Vincent Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, I appreciated Meier-Graefe's biography of this favorite Dutch son. His account is full of warmth between them, a summary of art in the late 19th century and a study of the complex relationships among the artists who had an impact on the Van Gogh brothers. The inclusion of 61 plates of Van Gogh's work is helpful.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura B

    Informative but largely speculative bio. Not sure why so much exploration into VG’s thoughts when the correspondence is right there. This is an English translation from German erring on overly descriptive sentences that belie their German origin — surely the original is more efficient?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hermien

    Quite a moving biography concentrating especially on Vincent's state of mind and mental deterioration. Quite a moving biography concentrating especially on Vincent's state of mind and mental deterioration.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Missy Kennedy

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5 Stars (Good)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    I loved listening to this book. It's written as a narrative and based mostly on the letters between the Van Gogh brothers. It gave me a real sense of him, his thoughts, his illness, and his world. I loved listening to this book. It's written as a narrative and based mostly on the letters between the Van Gogh brothers. It gave me a real sense of him, his thoughts, his illness, and his world.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    0 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christa

    Speculative but interesting read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ankit Dua

    It was written way back, now there are more findings about what prompted his to commit suicide and many more incidents.. still this book covers most of his feelings and fears.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mejix

    An entertaining book but this is more fiction than biography.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gingerholli

    Listened on audible. This book was way over my head. Lots of references to other painters, styles etc. I need visuals. So interested in the artists life , will try another bio

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    This book was not the best starter read for Vincent Van Gogh. I would have liked to see more of his paintings as referenced, and I would have benefited from a more extensive knowledge of artists from the Dutch Golden Era and Impressionists/post-Impressionists movement. I also found this compilation of information retrieved from Vincent and Theo's correspondence to be somewhat choppy. In short, this was best accompanied by the internet and felt more like a research project than a synopsis. With t This book was not the best starter read for Vincent Van Gogh. I would have liked to see more of his paintings as referenced, and I would have benefited from a more extensive knowledge of artists from the Dutch Golden Era and Impressionists/post-Impressionists movement. I also found this compilation of information retrieved from Vincent and Theo's correspondence to be somewhat choppy. In short, this was best accompanied by the internet and felt more like a research project than a synopsis. With that being said, I intend to follow-this up with a more visual book on Vincent Van Gogh, and I have a feeling this research will make that experience more rewarding. What I did love about this book was the hint at Vincent's purity of heart- something that I think got washed away with time on account of his mental illness. He was devoted to painting the peasants of the world in their landscape, and showing the beauty of the lower class. I admire him even more knowing this.

  21. 4 out of 5

    José Van Rosmalen

    In het Nederlands: het leven van Vincent Van Gogh, Prisma 215.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Ok right off the bat i will say that this book merits five stars simply because all that it contains in such a brief volume. I feel that this book is a great volume in general to own because it give you and overview of Van Goghs life i feel it is best for those first learning about Van Gogh personal life while those who already know more of vincent might find it a bit plain. I feel this book deserves five stars because it isnt just a straight forward bland biography or a terribly biased work of Ok right off the bat i will say that this book merits five stars simply because all that it contains in such a brief volume. I feel that this book is a great volume in general to own because it give you and overview of Van Goghs life i feel it is best for those first learning about Van Gogh personal life while those who already know more of vincent might find it a bit plain. I feel this book deserves five stars because it isnt just a straight forward bland biography or a terribly biased work of reverence from a pseudo-artist author. it is a book that tries its best to paint a beautiful pictures of a man who painted beautiful pictures and it does succeed but all too often i feel that the author goes a bit to far in prose and either concentrates too much on a miniscule thing or doesn't go into much detail about the situation at hand. beside all that i think it is fantastic for what it is a brief,poetic and earnest view of the life and times of Van Gogh it doesnt just touch on his painting or his illness but also of his relationships (with friends and women and more importantly his brother). i think this book succeeded where many of any subject failed it was touching in a way that made you sympathize with Vincent but didnt hide his faults or flaws it painted him as he was and for that this book for me is a perfect little gem that should be never be absent from anyone's library.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Ralph

    It was great to finally get a better insight into Van Gogh. This book was written at a time when eye witnesses would be alive. Some insights about mental illness reflect the time it was written. It has left me wanting to know more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Randall Madigan

    I enjoyed this early biography of the subject. An interesting look at the societies he lived in during his short life from Holland,to Paris, and also time spent in Belgium and the South of France. Also information about the people he was closest to in his family and artistic circles.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    Very well written bio of a very interesting artist. Very weird of course which is what made him so interesting. I always knew of his life but this book gave many details which I was not aware of.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Esther Kirby

    Great book!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brian Johnson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heather

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