Van Gogh, a Power Seething
I believe in the absolute necessity of a new art of colour, of drawing and ‘of the artistic life, Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in 1888. Van Gogh made us see the world in a new way. His shining landscapes of Provence and sombre portraits of workers shattered the relationship between light and dark, and his hallucinatory visions were so bright they nearly blinded the world. He was a great writer as well. In more than six hundred letters to Theo he chronicled with heart-breaking urgency his mental breakdowns, acrimonious family relations, and struggles with art dealers, who largely ignored him until the last years of his life. Shading this dark story is the artist’s acquaintance with prostitutes and penury, stormy scenes with his friend Paul Gauguin, and dissipated Parisian nights with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Julian Bell’s passion for his subject brings the painter to life.