Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"The Essential Vincent van Gogh"; By Ingrid Schaffer: My Review

The back cover claims that you can be a Van Gogh expert in 5 minutes with The Essential Vincent Van Gogh" by Ingrid Schaffer (Harry N. Abrams; 1998.)  You won't. It also takes longer than 5 minutes to read this small hardback -- unless you decide to just look at the pictures.  You may be able to finish it while waiting in line for a new Van Gogh exhibition.

However, some of the facts in this little book are wrong.  For example, it claims that Van Gogh didn't start drawing until he was 27.  He actually started as a child.  Some of the interpretations of Vincent's major works are spot on.  It also talks a little about the debate over what painting was Van Gogh's last -- something usually passed over in other books.

This little book is aimed for tweens, teens and adults with really short attention spans.  It's littered with white space, summaries, bullet points, "sound bytes" (short quotes in large print), modern slang and exclamation marks.  It does have some great reproductions on Van Gogh's best known works, including The Starry Night, The Yellow House and Irises.

This book is one in a series on famous artists.  Other artists in the series include Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollok, Man Ray, Edward Hopper, Mary Cassatt, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Vincent Van Gogh: A Book of Postcards"; By Pomegranate: A Review

This little book is just what it says on the cover: 30 oversize postcards of color reproductions of Vincent Van Gogh paintings.  Published by Pomegranate in 1999 to cash in on the massive 1999 Van Gogh exhibition that brought out huge crowds that would put most rock stars to shame, this is about the cheapest Van Gogh art book you can get. Personally, I recommend skipping this book and saving your money for a better Van Gogh book -- even those aimed for kids.

I got my copy from my Mom, who went to the 1999 exhibition when it hit the East Coast.  Idiot me decided I didn't have enough money to go along with her.

Anyway, I've no idea why anyone would actually use the postcards in Vincent Van Gogh: A Book of Postcards.  Even if you were desperate for a postcard, there is no easy way to actually remove a postcard from the binding.  Not without an X-acto knife, anyway.

Images include the well-known (like Portrait of Dr. Gachet but mostly lesser-known works (like Madame Roulin Rocking the Cradle (Le berceuse)) and a couple of completely forgettable works (like The Drinkers.)  I guess you're supposed to keep the more popular images for yourself and send the lesser known works as postcards.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Painting Focus: Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin

Yup -- here's another article I wrote for about a famous Van Gogh painting.  Helium comes up with it's own titles that (unfortunately) we mere writers cannot change -- even if the title contains a misspelling or factual error.  This time around, Helium states that the portraits of the postman Joseph Roulin were done in 1889.  They were actually done in 1888.  Any other errors in the text body (like the misspelling of Daumier's name) are my fault.

Please read my article at Helium about Vincent's portraits of Joseph Roulin.  Thanks!

5 More Van Gogh Parodies

'Cause Van Gogh paradies are so much fun!  If you can't afford a real Van Gogh, you can afford to download a Van Gogh parody. Enjoy.

(Yes I know about this is a mispronunciation, but it's Grumpy Cat.)

YouTube Video: 1990 South Bank "Vincent and Theo"

It's a shame that a series like South Bank Show in America. This is a great 1990 documentary about making of Robert Altman's film Vincent and Theo (1990), of which bits and pieces of it pop up on YouTube.  This seems to be the entire episode (which, for some reason, YouTube will not allow me to place the clip on this blog.)

It focuses on director Altman and his problems making a fictional movie about a beloved historical figure nd his long-suffering brother.  Tim Roth (pictured) puts on a killer performance as Vincent.

YouTube Video: "Van Gogh Adventure: Vincent's Ghost and Me"

Here's a quirky little film made by American water colorist and filmmaker Phil Savenick.  Although he struggles with at least three different pronunciations of "Van Gogh" and incorrectly states that Vincent shot himself in the heart, it's still a film worth seeing by art fans and frustrated artists like me.  Savenick only goes to France (minus Paris) to where Vincent spent his final years.  He also takes sunflower seeds back to his home.  He believes the seeds are related to Van Gogh's sunflowers, but that seems about as accurate as the "shot through the heart" quip.  The film also makes you wonder how Vincent managed to paint in the rain.

"Van Gogh: His Life and Works in 500 Images"; By Michael Howard: A Review

If you only get  one book about Vincent Van Gogh, make it Van Gogh: His Life and Works in 500 Images by Michael Howard (Anness; 2010.) It's the most succinct look at Van Gogh's life, body of works and influences that I've ever come across.  It also makes a great gift for any Van Gogh fan that wants a good collection of works.

Yes, there have been more detailed biographies on Van Gogh, but this isn't as exhausting, sensationalistic or skimpy as presented in other biographies.  Since this is a heavy book, it's good that the pages keep on turning rather than having to wrestle with teeny-tiny print on huge pages (like Steven Naifeh's monster Van Gogh: The Life.)

The 500 images are not all Van Gogh works.  They also include images of paintings and illustrators that inspired and influenced Van Gogh.  It also includes works of Van Gogh's contemporaries, including Paul Gauguin. 

This hardback coffee-table book is part of Anness' series on major artists which include a brief biography and an in-depth veiw of many of that artist's works.  Other artists in the series include Cezzane, Renoir, Degas, Turner and Monet.  There is also a book devoted to one of Van Gogh's biggest influences, Rembrandt.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Funny Van Gogh-Related Item on eBay

I'm actually tempted to buy this Van Gogh reproduction drawing, even though I'm no longer a member of eBay.  It's currently at $6.50 ($11.50 with shipping.)  Here's the description:

bought this off of an Italian dude here on ebay... he failed to mention that on the back of the drawing someone had written REPRO... oh well. fooled me.
so to be clear... looks real, BUT IT AIN'T.
this is being sold as 'in the manner of' which is a nice way of saying FAKE.
it's a actual drawing, not a print. looks like pencil and charcoal.
get it out of my life. NOW.
size is 8" by 12".

I hate to think what the seller had to pay for this.  Apparently the seller doesn't want to be reminded ("get it out of my life. NOW.")

Just a vivid reminder that original Van Gogh's usually are not found for sale on eBay.  Although if you want erotic turtle sculptures, false limbs or the occasional soul, eBay's for you.