BN.com Gift Guide

Van Gogh: The Life

( 31 )

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith galvanized readers with their astonishing Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography, a book acclaimed for its miraculous research and overwhelming narrative power. Now Naifeh and Smith have written another tour de force—an exquisitely detailed, compellingly readable, and ultimately heartbreaking portrait of creative genius Vincent van Gogh.

...

See more details below
Hardcover
$28.42
BN.com price
(Save 28%)$40.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (50) from $8.38   
  • New (12) from $11.14   
  • Used (38) from $8.38   
Van Gogh: The Life

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$15.99
BN.com price

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith galvanized readers with their astonishing Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography, a book acclaimed for its miraculous research and overwhelming narrative power. Now Naifeh and Smith have written another tour de force—an exquisitely detailed, compellingly readable, and ultimately heartbreaking portrait of creative genius Vincent van Gogh.

Working with the full cooperation of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Naifeh and Smith have accessed a wealth of previously untapped materials. While drawing liberally from the artist’s famously eloquent letters, they have also delved into hundreds of unpublished family correspondences, illuminating with poignancy the wanderings of Van Gogh’s troubled, restless soul. Naifeh and Smith bring a crucial understanding to the larger-than-life mythology of this great artist—his early struggles to find his place in the world; his intense relationship with his brother Theo; his impetus for turning to brush and canvas; and his move to Provence, where in a brief burst of incandescent productivity he painted some of the best-loved works in Western art.

The authors also shed new light on many unexplored aspects of Van Gogh’s inner world: his deep immersion in literature and art; his erratic and tumultuous romantic life; and his bouts of depression and mental illness.

Though countless books have been written about Van Gogh, and though the broad outlines of his tragedy have long inhabited popular culture, no serious, ambitious examination of his life has been attempted in more than seventy years. Naifeh and Smith have re-created Van Gogh’s life with an astounding vividness and psychological acuity that bring a completely new and sympathetic understanding to this unique artistic genius whose signature images of sunflowers and starry nights have won a permanent place in the human imagination.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Another full immersion biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors. Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith know how to research and craft omnibus lives: Their mammoth Jackson Pollock: An American Saga is credited with reinvigorating interest in the much-maligned painter. Their Van Gogh: A Biography keeps you glued to its 950+-pages by smoothly unfolding the story of a strange Dutch boy who changed the world of art.

Edward Ash-Milby

From the Publisher
The definitive biography for decades to come.”—Leo Jansen, curator, the Van Gogh Museum, and co-editor of Vincent van Gogh: The Complete Letters

“In their magisterial new biography, Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith provide a guided tour through the personal world and work of that Dutch painter, shining a bright light on the evolution of his art. . . . What [the authors] capture so powerfully is Van Gogh’s extraordinary will to learn, to persevere against the odds.”Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Captivating . . . Winners of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for their biography of Jackson Pollock, [Naifeh and Smith] bring a booming authorial voice and boundless ingenuity to the task and have written a thoroughly engaging account of the Dutch painter. Drawing on Van Gogh’s almost uniquely rich correspondence . . . the authors vividly reconstruct the intertwined stories of his life and his art, portraying him as a ‘victim of his own fanatic heart.’ . . . Their fine book has the potential not only to reinvigorate the broad base of popular interest that Van Gogh already enjoys but to introduce a whole new generation to one of art history’s most remarkable creative spirits.”Jonathan Lopez, The Wall Street Journal

“Could very well be the definitive biography . . . In it we get a much fuller view of Van Gogh, owing to the decade Naifeh and Smith spent on research to create this scholarly and spellbinding work. . . . How pleased we should be that [these authors] have rendered so exquisitely and respectfully Van Gogh’s short, intense, and wholly interesting life.”—Roberta Silman, The Boston Globe
 
“This generation’s definitive portrait of the great Dutch post-Impressionist . . . [The authors’] most important achievement is to produce a reckoning with Van Gogh’s occasional ‘madness’ that doesn’t lose sight of the lucidity and intelligence—the profound sanity—of his art.”—Richard Lacayo, Time
 
Brilliant . . . Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith are the big-game hunters of modern art history. . . . [Van Gogh] rushes along on a tide of research. . . . At once a model of scholarship and an emotive, pacy chunk of hagiography.”—Martin Herbert, The Daily Telegraph (London)

Library Journal
It's nice that this book was written with the cooperation of the Vincent van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and that the BBC has signed on to do a series on the book's making. It's even more intriguing that revelations about van Gogh's life and death are promised, as are a 32-page color insert and 100 black-and-white illustrations. But what really sells me on this book is that Naifeh (responsible for numerous titles with coauthor and fellow Harvard Law grad Smith) wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning Jackson Pollock. Expect the energy of The Starry Night; with a seven-city tour
Library Journal
It's nice that this book was written with the cooperation of the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and that the BBC has signed on to do a series on the book's making. It's even more intriguing that revelations about Van Gogh's life and death are promised, as are a 32-page color insert and 100 black-and-white illustrations. But what really sells me on this book is that Naifeh (responsible for numerous titles with coauthor and fellow Harvard Law grad Smith) wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning Jackson Pollock. Expect the energy of The Starry Night; with a seven-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews
A gripping and almost certainly definitive account of the all-too-short life of a great artist who believed he was doomed to oblivion. Indeed, few who knew Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) thought he would amount to anything. Fired by religious mania, mental illness and a love-hate relationship with his domineering pastor father, he was a difficult child who became a socially awkward adult. After blowing through a series of failed careers--art dealer, preacher (repeatedly), tutor, bookkeeper--he was well into his 20s before he became an artist. "This painting of yours will be like all the other things you started, it will come to nothing," said one former employer. But for van Gogh, art, not religion, was the transcendence he had been looking for all along, offering "an imagery of reconciliation with which he could re-imagine his own life of failure and remorse." His new calling proved every bit as monkish and self-mortifying as his old one, pushing him to create but failing to reward him, forcing him to rely on money from his beloved brother Theo. A desperate and haunted figure, he faced demons both outer (personal and professional rejection) and inner (paranoia, self-hatred, self-mutilation and a lifelong yearning for death). Van Gogh's life has long been the stuff of tortured-artist drama, but it is hard to imagine it has ever been told better than by Pulitzer winners Naifeh and Smith (Jackson Pollack, 1991, etc.). Their van Gogh is tender, caddish, selfish and sympathetic. The authors occasionally get defensive about their subject, but they offer a credibly argued theory that suggests he died from an accidental shooting, not suicide. Despite its exhaustive length, the book is brilliantly written and engaging, presenting a three-dimensional and larger-than-life portrait of the artist.
Julia Frey
…reads like a novel, full of suspense and intimate detail…In beautiful prose, Naifeh and Smith argue convincingly for a subtler, more realistic evaluation of Van Gogh…
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
In their magisterial new biography, Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith provide a guided tour through the personal world and the work of that Dutch painter, shining a bright light on the evolution of his art…The overall portrait of van Gogh that emerges from this book will be familiar to readers of earlier biographies…but it is fleshed out with details as myriad as the brushstrokes in one of his late paintings.
—The New York Times
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375507489
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/18/2011
  • Pages: 976
  • Sales rank: 812,369
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith are graduates of Harvard Law School. Mr. Naifeh, who has written for art periodicals and has lectured at numerous museums including the National Gallery of Art, studied art history at Princeton and did his graduate work at the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University. Together they have written many books on art and other subjects, including four New York Times bestsellers. Their biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga won the Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It also inspired the Academy Award–winning 2000 film Pollock starring Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden as well as John Updike’s novel, Seek My Face. Naifeh and Smith have been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times, USA Today, and People, and have appeared on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Charlie Rose, and the Today show.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 11, 2011

    I give Van Gogh:The Life - Two Paintbrushes Up!

    At first the book started out a little dry and then suddenly became a page turner. I've been an admirer and inspired by van Gogh's work since I was six years old. Now I know, more than ever before, why van Gogh painted with such emotion and expression. We all know that van Gogh was a tortured soul but man the stuff he had to endure! Brutal.

    I loved reading the retelling of van Gogh's palette and methods for each of his paintings and of the places of which he painted. "Just the facts m'am" ---- "Van Gogh: The Life" clearly chronicles van Gogh's life from birth to end - backed by Solid Sources, Notes Appendix; Bibliography;Index; Gorgeous color plates and photos...my kind of book from cover to cover. Finally, posthumous biography I can believe. I have "Van Gogh's Letters" edited by Anne Suh and his last letter was not a suicide note. I'm so glad Naifeh and Smith followed through with their book.

    Thank you Mr. Naifeh and Mr. Smith for your extensive research and for "colorfully" and conclusively proving to me what I have felt all along - van Gogh DID NOT end his life. Vincent van Gogh's "Cold Case" is officially closed in my book by reading THIS BOOK.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 17, 2011

    Highly recommended

    A facinating look at the life of Van Gogh. Well written, interesting and deeply sad, The Life is a must read for anyone even vaguely interested in Van Gogh or the Impressionist movement. A must read.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2011

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    However, I still feel Irving Stone's "Lust for Life" is more eminently readable!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 4, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    The book is well written--a page turner. It is not only comprehensive, it is written with sensitivity. It reveals Vincent Van Gogh, the man, not merely the artist. It draws the reader into his inner psyche, his deep Christian roots, how he was in search of the "it" (the divine spark, the soul) within the subject of each of his paintings. I was surprised at what I learned -- in every chapter, and sometimes on every page. I cannot recommend this book enough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 1, 2014

    I'm speechless... This book is just amazing. I bought it out of

    I'm speechless... This book is just amazing. I bought it out of curiosity of the man. And I finished it with a love for the man. The photos are just beyond beautiful, the information about this amazing beautiful man is so intriguing. I learned alot and I appreciate all his art so much more now knowing the truth of this man. He might of been considered insane, but he was a genius, a truly talented beautiful man who was never given the chance to shine. I am so glad I bought this book. You will be obsessive when it comes to reading this. I stayed up late reading this book because I just couldn't put it down. The length of the book is no issue when you first start reading it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Excellent reference book

    A very thorough reference book. It is chock full of information. A great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 24, 2013

    Good read but difficult to physically manage

    A great read full of fascinating detail with a number of pages of beautiful color reproductions. It took me a bit to figure out exactly why I was having a problem getting through it: The paperback volume I read is large, sharp edged, very heavy, and very hard to handle. I couldn't read it anywhere but at a desk or table. Seriously. I was tempted to take a kitchen knife and split the thing into two volumes right at the beginning of The French Years - around page 494. I admit, this is a tedious and silly thing to add to a review, but my reading was seriously hampered. Maybe the publishers will decide to release this as two volumes in a slip case. I love physical books, but this one would have gone well on my iPad.
    The actual text? Incomparable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2012

    Van Gogh on Display

    Like the authors' biography of Jackson Pollack, this book is a thorough examination of the events in the subject's life. But also like the book on Pollack, this story of Van Gogh leaves out the aesthetic cause of the subject's art form. Great biographies on any artists should be repleat with the explanations of what make their art great and the resonance that their ideas carry through the world. Even still, this book is hard to put down, and the conclusions about the artist's death bring down the traditional "suicide of the tortured artist" myth around Van Gogh. The image of Van Gogh as a man who suffered for his art remains, and is presented in all of it's tragic detail.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2014

    America

    "I feel horrible." Sighs.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2013

    &infinity

    Gig

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Vincent van goph the life

    Good

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2013

    Who is that!!!!!

    Who is that arist is that one who cut his ear off for a girl

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 6, 2013

    Van Gogh THE LIFE

    My son is a 29 year old artist. I purchased this book as a Christmas gift for him. He couldn't stop reading it and commented that "it's awesome". I'm so pleased with his response and that B&N had exactly what my son mentioned that he wanted.

    Thanks B&N!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    Fantastic

    A wonderful look at a beautiful, astonishingly sad artist.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

    Highly recommended.

    An amazing and well-documented account of the tormented life of an artistic genius. It was difficult to put down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)