Art: Night & Day

AS a young man, Vincent Van Gogh, the son of a Calvinist minister, worked as a lay preacher among the poor coal miners of Belgium. At 26 he was dismissed by church authorities because his methods were too unorthodox (e.g., he gave his money, his clothes, even his bed to his flock). But for the rest of his short (1853-90), tormented life, Van Gogh's art showed a religious fervor that made his work leap from the canvas into the heart.

The first big U.S. show of Van Gogh's art, in 1935-36, attracted nearly a million people in five cities. A second...

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