Picks and Pans Review: Van Gogh: a Documentary Biography

UPDATED 11/01/1982 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/01/1982 at 01:00 AM EST

by A.M. Hammacher and Renilde Hammacher

The popular image of Vincent van Gogh, retailed in such pop-biographical fictions as Irving Stone's Lust for Life, is that of a lovelorn freak. Happily, this richly detailed and illustrated account of the artist's life works against that misconception. Intensely religious, van Gogh originally wanted to be a Lutheran minister, and the fervor that eventually went into his paintings was primarily that of a man who felt a pent-up need to convey to others his unique vision of love, truth and beauty. He was a serious student of the art of his time as well as of earlier masters, and one of the best things about this volume is its display of the various influences—Millet, Rembrandt, Delacroix, Japanese prints and Signac (van Gogh's friend), among others—that van Gogh employed vividly in his own work. A.M. Hammacher, a Hollander, is an art historian and the ex-director of the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterloo. His wife, Renilde, is the former curator of the Boymans-Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. (Macmillan, $36.50)

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