This chronicle of the two months in 1888 when Paul Gauguin shared a house in France with Vincent Van Gogh describes not only how these two hallowed artists painted and exchanged ideas, but also the texture of their everyday lives. Includes 60 B&W reproductions of the artists' paintings and drawings from the period.
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.