The turbulent life of Vincent van Gogh is a constant source of inspiration and intrigue for artists and art lovers. In this beautiful graphic biography, artist and writer Barbara Stok documents the brief and intense period of creativity Van Gogh spent in Arles, Provence. Away from Paris, Van Gogh falls in love with the landscape and light of the south of France. He dreams of setting up an artists' studio in Arles – somewhere for him and his friends to paint together. But attacks of mental illness leave the painter confused and disorientated. When his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin refuses to reside permanently at the Yellow House, Van Gogh cuts off part of his ear. The most notorious event of art history has happened - and Van Gogh's dreams are left in tatters. However, throughout this period of intense emotion and hardship, Vincent's brother Theo stands by him, offering constant and unconditional support. Stok has succeeded in breathing new life into one of the most fascinating episodes of art history.
Using pop art to describe fine painting, Stok's offbeat comics biography of Vincent van Gogh follows the Dutch-born painter from his time in Arles, France, to his death. Stok doesn't try to reproduce van Gogh's visuals; instead, she uses heavy lines, solid colors, and minimal background details to focus attention on characters and history. When she breaks away from this pattern in jagged panel lines showing van Gogh's slipping sanity, or the brilliance of his paintings exploding behind him it's emotionally charged and made all the more immediate by the iconography. Stok uses bright nonprimaries and solid background pastels for the figures and action. There's great beauty, and not just in van Gogh's madness and passion: sections of his letters to and from his brother Theo are touching. This inventive art biography eschews the usual visual clich s and brings its subject into a sharp and sympathetic focus.