Van Gogh and Japan

& others. Yale Univ. Jul. 2018. 200p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300233261. $45. FINE ARTS
While there is no shortage of books on Vincent van Gogh (1853–90), this new title presents the significant influence of Japanese art on his creative work and artistic ambitions, focusing almost entirely on the last few years of his life, when many of his paintings were completed. Van Gogh Museum scholars van Tilborgh (art history, Univ. of Amsterdam) and Nienke Bakker, along with Tsukasa Kodera (art history, Osaka Univ.) and independent historian Cornelia Homburg, draw heavily on van Gogh's own correspondence to illustrate the extent of Japanese inspiration on his composition and color choice. This volume is highly detailed, containing more than 200 citations and 237 full-color images of Japanese prints and many lesser-known van Gogh paintings. In fact, his most famous works, such as Starry Night, are not represented here at all. In spite of the extensive detail, the text is accessible to casual readers. The only challenge is the disjointedness among chapters, which read more as individual essays than a cohesive narrative.
VERDICT An excellent choice for readers interested in Japan's influence on van Gogh or for those simply curious about his less popular artworks.
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