The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles

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9780670914975: The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles
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The mesmerizing true story of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin in the most celebrated cohabitation in art history.

From October to December of 1888, Paul Gauguin shared a yellow house in the south of France with Vincent Van Gogh. Never before or since have two such towering artists occupied so small a space. They were the Odd Couple of art history--one calm, the other volatile--and the denouement of their living arrangement was explosive. Two months after Gauguin arrived in Provence, Van Gogh suffered a psychological crisis that culminated in his cutting off part of an ear. He was institutionalized for most of the rest of his short life and never saw Gauguin again.

During the brief, exhilarating period they worked together in Arles, these not-yet-famous artists created a stream of masterpieces within the shared studio--including Van Gogh's Sunflowers, which decorated Gauguin's bedroom wall. Making use of Van Gogh's voluminous correspondence and new evidence, Martin Gayford describes not only how these two hallowed artists painted and exchanged ideas, but also the texture of their everyday lives. He tells us what they cooked and how they budgeted their meager finances and entertained themselves, and he movingly relays their inner fears and dreams. Gayford also makes a persuasive analysis of Van Gogh's mental illness--the probable bipolar affliction that led him to commit suicide at the age of 37. THE YELLOW HOUSE is a singular biographical work as dramatic and vibrant as the artists' pictures.

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About the Author:

Martin Gayford was educated at Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute of the University of London. He is the co-editor of the Penguin Book of Art Writing. Currently chief art critic for Bloomberg, Gayford lives in Cambridge, England, with his wife and two children.


Starred Review. Van Gogh's reputation in the public imagination has been made as much by his descent into madness as by his art. Detailing the final year of his life and the "Studio of the South" in which Gauguin and Van Gogh painted side by side, Gayford brings the art back into focus. Explications of the works illuminate the collaboration—similar subjects find very different treatment by two entirely different temperaments. Yet their influence on each other is everywhere—a story that Van Gogh recommends to Gauguin finds its way into a painting; Van Gogh uses the jute canvas that is Gauguin's material of choice. While some of this is well-trodden territory, Gayford's narrative is genuinely dramatic as it moves toward Van Gogh's fateful end. Gayford makes exciting new connections between the tone of Van Gogh's correspondence and known scholarship about his probable bipolar disorder. The influences of literature, the news media and so-called "hygienic excursions" (visits to the local brothels) percolate in these letters and under the surfaces of the artists' canvases. So, argues Gayford, were they invading Van Gogh's mind. Though it is impossible to entirely understand what motivated these two great artists during their weeks together in Arles, these pages deliver as close and vivid an image as may be possible. 60 b&w illus. (Publishers Weekly )

Adult/High School–In an accessible and even affectionate work of art history, Gayford tells of the two artists who lived and worked in the South of France in the fall of 1888. Their story is told in short episodes, reconstructed through the formal analysis and comparison of the paintings they created during this period, and through letters and newspapers that place the work in the context of the contemporary art world, popular literature, and current events. Their time together culminated in Van Gogh's famous ear-cutting incident (which is revealed on the jacket copy), teens with an interest in the artist's colorful yet short life may take to Gayford's somewhat breathless approach leading up to the big event. The author delights in the quotidian details of his story: the joint visits to local brothels, how the weather may have affected work habits, Gauguin's cooking skills. The biggest drawback is the use of small black-and-white photos of paintings. Suggest that teens read this alongside larger monographs with color reproductions to appreciate the art fully.–Jenny Gasset, Orange County Public Library, CA
(School Library Journal )

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780618990580: The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0618990585 ISBN 13:  9780618990580
Publisher: Mariner Books, 2008

9780141016733: The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles

Pengui..., 2007

9780316769013: The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles

Little..., 2006

9780670914982: The Yellow House

Viking, 2006

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Martin Gayford
Published by Fig Tree (2006)
ISBN 10: 0670914975 ISBN 13: 9780670914975
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