The Stranger

A new look at van Gogh's life--and death

Nimatallah/Art Resource, NY

Self-Portrait by van Gogh

In 1876, when Vincent van Gogh was in the grip of a religious mania (feverish obsessions were a constant in his life), he gave his first sermon as an itinerant preacher. He quoted Psalms: "I am a stranger in this world." That was another of van Gogh's constants--miserable estrangement. Those two conditions are motifs in any telling of his story, but they have never been laid out as cogently and thoroughly as in Van Gogh: The Life. Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, whose 1989 biography of Jackson Pollock won the Pulitzer Prize, have written this generation's definitive portrait of the...

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