Friday, April 22, 2011

Random VG #4

Book: An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (Grand Central Publishing: 2010)

Chapter 15: "A hand lifted the velour to reveal a Van Gogh drawing so fine that the only improvement it could make would be to turn itself into a painting. It showed Van Gogh's finest landscape subject, wheat fields being harvested by workers loading wheat into a hay wain."

[Note: The work in question is a watercolour, not a drawing.]

Chapter 19: "The brunette leaned the two paintings on either side of the Van Gogh on the floor, giving the gouache breathing room. The director turned to Talley. 'Do you know this picture?'

The sujbect was a green boat on yellow sand next to a blue sea, eighteen by twenty-four inches, under glass. 'Of course I know the painting, but I didn't know there was a gouache. It's wonderfully fresh,' said Talley, standing and examining it. Lacy came close. The signature 'Vincent,' made her feel that the artist was nearby, that his brush had just lifted off the paper."

[Note: A character in Martin's book says that this work was seized from the Germans during the war and that it was to be returned. The work, however, is still in the collection of the Hermitage.]

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Currently reading . . . .

I would encourage everyone to share their thoughts on any Van Gogh related books they're reading these days.

Right now I'm reading A Real Van Gogh: How the Art World Struggles with Truth by Henk Tromp. This book was published in Dutch in 2008 (I believe) and an English version came out in 2010. Excellent research and engaging writing make this a very enjoyable book. It focuses on the first efforts to catalogue Van Gogh's works (something near and dear to my heart as a cataloguer of Van Gogh's works for more than fifteen years now). It then moves on to the various scandals and controversies concerning authenticity over the years. Lots of underhandedness and back stabbing--the stuff of high drama . . . . drama that continues to the present day. Highly recommended.