Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South

Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South

by Douglas W. Druick, Peter Zegers, Bruce Salvesen
     
 

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The personal and professional history of van Gogh and Gauguin—their rivalrous friendship and brief period of collaboration in Arles in 1888—constitutes one of the most dramatically revealing sagas in the history of modern art. In many ways, it is the quintessential story about the beginnings of modern avant-garde practice as it developed in the wake of the…  See more details below

Overview

The personal and professional history of van Gogh and Gauguin—their rivalrous friendship and brief period of collaboration in Arles in 1888—constitutes one of the most dramatically revealing sagas in the history of modern art. In many ways, it is the quintessential story about the beginnings of modern avant-garde practice as it developed in the wake of the last Impressionist exhibition, held in 1886. Gauguin and van Gogh were, by circumstances of personality and history, "isolés": at once inherently self-involved and faced, in the absence of a single dominant "school," with a dizzying array of contemporary art-making. Brought together by circumstance, each artist played a vital role in the other's search for a personal style that would relate to current developments yet be unique. Over the course of this century, van Gogh and Gauguin have received a prodigious amount of scholarly attention. Recent contributions to this literature—including new biographies, studies of particular aspects of their art, and publication of their letters—have expanded our knowledge significantly. But while references to their problematic interaction abound, sustained analysis of their mutual influence has yet to be the subject of a major study. This book, published on the occasion of a landmark exhibition organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, systematically explores the relationship in the context of the larger cultural and political background implied in their ideas for a "Studio of the South." It charts the connections between the two men through their stay together in Provence and beyond to Vincent's death in 1890. A final sectionconsiders the remainder of Gauguin's career, both in Tahiti and the Marquesas (where he died in 1903), as an attempt to realize the ideals of the "Studio of the South" developed with van Gogh and shaped by his posthumous reputation. 575 illustrations, 400 in color.

Author Biography: Douglas Druick is Curator of Prints, Drawings, and European Painting and Peter Kort Zegers is Research Curator at the Art Institute of Chicago. Andreas Blühm is Head of Exhibitions and Louis van Tilborgh is Curator of Paintings at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
To accompany the Art Institute of Chicago blockbuster van Gogh and Gauguin exhibit, here's a blockbuster book, with reproductions of such sensuous beauty that they are likely to convert even nonfans of the squabbling yet eternally linked pair. This book's subtitle is a translation of a phrase van Gogh used, more accurately rendered as "The Studio in Southern France," where van Gogh and Gauguin were in close contact, inspiring and antagonizing one another in a way that has fascinated generations of poets, playwrights, screenwriters and even art historians. The most famous van Gogh paintings, like Starry Night and Sunflowers, are put into context here, and there is room also for early, lesser-known works. Four major chapters "Origins," "Encounters," "South Versus North," "The Studio of the South" are followed by a chapter of letters exchanged by the two artists; a "coda" about Gauguin in the tropics, after van Gogh's famous ear-cutting incident broke up their partnership; and a technical appendix with results from lab investigations of canvas fibers and paint chemistry that help to date the works. In clear art historical prose, the painters' motivations are pointed out, such as van Gogh's portrait of Gauguin seen from behind: "In no other instance did Vincent decline to confront a sitter in this way." Two self-portraits, done simultaneously for a friend named Paul Laval, are cogently contrasted, with van Gogh's depiction of his own face showing "a scowl of concern and irritation, his green-eyed gaze skittish..." whereas Gauguin's view of himself shows "watchful, almost smug self-possession." This kind of lively character analysis, as well as art historical smarts, will make this aprestigious title for anyone even vaguely interested in modern French painting, but the 510 illustrations (over 300 in color) are the stars of the show here. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
For a brief two-month period, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin lived and worked together in southern France. What began in friendship ended in turmoil, propelling each artist further down his own creative path. Yet the subject of this book continues to reverberate. Druick (curator of prints, drawings, and European paintings) and Zegers (research curator), both with the Art Institute of Chicago, have spared no effort in producing a stunning companion to a major exhibition now at the institute and traveling to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam early next year. The Arles period is thoroughly examined chronologically, but the reading is not dull. Journals, letters, maps, and personal histories are interwoven compellingly, leaving the reader with a real feel for the artist's perceptions. Current, highly informative, and scholarly in scope yet accessible, this catalog exceeds blockbuster-style expectations. Some of the illustrations are small, but many useful comparisons and preliminary studies place the oeuvre of these two artists in a broader perspective. While it is difficult to recommend yet another book on Van Gogh and Gauguin, the high quality of the information here demands it. An essential purchase for art schools and public libraries. Susan Lense, Upper Arlington P.L., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780865591943
Publisher:
Art Institute of Chicago
Publication date:
09/28/2001
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
418

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