Author: Barbara Stok
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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. (Source: Goodreads)
Vincent is a graphic biography about Vincent van Gogh documenting his life as he moves to Arles and begins a long period of artistic endeavours of various styles, especially as his health and mental wellness begin to deteriorate. The story, which is told through letters and dialogue, is interesting and engaging for the most part, though gets kind of hard to follow due to van Gogh’s own deteriorating health. I believe the story was informed by the Van Gogh Museum who helped to make this book. I found the art to be something of an issue and was displeased with it.
The book can be quite heavy at times, in part because there are large portions of text but also because it is excruciating to watch van Gogh falling apart. The story is told through letters frequently, which make for large blocks of text every few pages. I found these interesting and they made me want to check out the Penguin collection of van Gogh’s letters. I found the storytelling to be fairly good, I followed things pretty well. I don’t think this is the place to turn if you’re looking for an informative biography and it’s pretty bare bones and skates over a lot of the action, but it was still very interesting.
The art for me was really not that great. I felt that it was a little crude for representing an artist as influential and interesting as van Gogh. It was very basic and kind of cartoon-y to the point of being too simple. The character designs were okay, but the representation of van Gogh’s work was often less than satisfactory. I think things got a little more interesting towards the end as van Gogh had episodes and his art style began to change, which was represented through these dream-like panels. I was still kind of unimpressed but it was really interesting towards the end which gave me a better feeling about the book.
I think this is worth a read but it’s really not my favourite graphic biography and probably not the best biography for van Gogh around.