Vincent Van Gogh
Chemicals, Crises, and Creativity
ISBN10: 0817636161 ISBN13: 9780817636166 Publisher: Springer Verlag Published: Dec 1 1992 Weight: 2.05lbs. Height: 9.75" Width: 7.00" Depth: 1.00" Language: English
At the time of his suicide, in 1890, the genius of Vincent van Gogh was acknowledged by only a small cadre of friends and followers. His jagged life was marked by early years of uncertainty, interludes of luckless love affairs, wrenching episodes of self-mutilation, crises of debilitating illness, and periods of painful striving for lofty goals. Today, his art is universally recognized. He is on everybody's list of outstanding artists and in every catalog of creative people. This scholarly yet very readable work addresses all of the features of van Gogh's life and underlying illness, the family history, the environment, and the artist's uniqueness. Dr. Arnold provides an accurate, balanced, and sometimes hard-hitting evaluation of all the hypotheses and suggestions from the past. He keeps people, places, and paintings in perspective. He explains the chemistry, medicine, and biology and offers new proposals that are always elegant, often provocative, and sometimes audaciously simple. A theme that distinguishes the present analyses is that van Gogh not only suffered from an identifiable disease but that his life-style directly influenced the expression and severity of symptoms, exacerbated his condition, and provoked medical crises. The consequences of such well-documented and seemingly disparate factors as overindulgence in alcohol (especially as the romantic but toxic absinthe), smoking too much, malnutrition, fasting (because the artist elected to buy paints and canvas, instead of his daily bread), environmental exposure, and infections, all come together here and support a unifying hypothesis. This book, beautifully complemented with many full color reproductions of paintings, is presented by a scientist who enjoys the art, evaluates the data, produces new models, and advances the field with thought-provoking ideas. The portrait of Vincent van Gogh is not as a mad artist, but rather as an exceptional man who suffered from an inherited metabolic disorder. He was wonderfully creative because of intelligence, talent, and hard work. He was a genius in spite of his illness - not because of it.