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The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  3,353 ratings  ·  112 reviews
This chronicle of the two months in 1888 when Paul Gauguin shared a house in France with Vincent Van Gogh describes not only how these two hallowed artists painted and exchanged ideas, but also the texture of their everyday lives. Includes 60 B&W reproductions of the artists' paintings and drawings from the period.
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Published October 31st 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published April 6th 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Reeser
I encourage anyone who is interested in art, the business of art, and artists to read this book. And I mean art in a general sense, whether it is painting, poetry, prose, photography, or any other medium. This is a phenomenal look at the mind of two artists, how they looked at the world, how they created their art, and how they related to each other.
I am not a fan of Gauguin. I consider Van Gogh one of the greatest artists the world has ever known. But this book taught me to appreciate Gauguin,
...more
Sandra Danby
I love doing background research for my novels, I guess that’s the journalist in me. With hindsight, I researched my first novel Ignoring Gravity too much, I didn’t recognise the point at which I knew enough and when to let my imagination take over. I was reading about adoption, something I haven’t experienced myself and know no-one who has. So I turned to books [a typical reaction for me]. As a reader, I hate writers who put all their research onto the page. Needless to say, a lot of the stuff ...more
StacyM
P300 "Few people have left a fuller self-portrait in words than Vincent did."

This wasn't a quick read (for me) by any means, though it's only 314 pages long. However by the end, I found myself savoring it and trying so hard to really understand Vincent.

This isn't for everyone though as it begins when Gauguin joins Vincent in Arles and delves into when and what they painted as well Vincent and Gaugin's influence on one another while they live in the yellow house. The termination of their compani
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Bonnie Gayle
Oct 03, 2007 Bonnie Gayle rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of stories about art and artists
Ergh. I was disapointed in this book, and didn't finish it. If they had stuck to the title and really made it about those 9 weeks, then it could have been a really interesting book. Instead, the author went off on so many side-tangents and history and unecessary details that the narrative thread of those 9 weeks was lost.
I would space out when it would get to another passage (for example, describing the history of the church they were painting for a page and a half) and then I wouldn't notice w
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Michael Flick
Turgid novelization of the nine weeks Guaguin spent with Van Gogh in the yellow house in Arles in 1888. If the writing wasn't bad enough, the illustrations doom this book. What's the sense of black-and-white when the core genius is color? One illustration--a reclining nude (1887) with the face of a monkey--isn't even mentioned in the text. "Ictus" isn't a secret Christian word: it's from the Latin "icere" = "to strike" and is a sudden occurrence (or recurrence) of a disease. Van Gogh cut off his ...more
Sarah
The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles gives a great insight into the brief but highly significant period that two great modern artists, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin spent working and living together in a small house in Arles. Through a careful study of the work and writings of Van Gogh and Gauguin, author Martin Gayford provides the reader with a fascinating account of the chaotic relationship between two of history’s greatest post-impressionists, and the art ...more
Jan
Suggested by my nephew and his mom, Greg Christensen and Chris Gailey, and my daughter Katie, I knew this would be a good book. I couldn't put it down once I started reading. Very informative, and an art education in itself. Greg wrote a blog (http://www.vangoghgauguin.blogspot.com) wherein he shows the art that is being described; a perfect accompaniment to reading the book.
Bea
I wish I could give this book 3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed reading it but thought it didn't add much to what I already knew about this period from reading the Van Gogh's letters. The book also would have been vastly improved if it had been illustrated in color rather than black and white. Even the best descriptions of the paintings can't convey their power.
Alex
An interesting and detailed book- I learned a lot about Van Gogh and Gauguin as artists and as roommates. Some of the author's tangents and conjectures are distracting or off the mark, but it's still an engaging read. It didn't do much to change my mind about Gauguin, though. What a big-headed jerk. Plus his art's not that great.
Ali
May 17, 2015 Ali added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
It isn’t often that a book completely defeats me – once begun I generally struggle valiantly on. Although this year, I am happy to say, there has been little that has disappointed me – I have had a pretty good run. I am still not entirely sure why this particular book defeated me – it might just have been the case of the wrong time, wrong mood, maybe the wrong subject – for me at least – and not so much the book. The book in question: The Yellow House by Martin Gayford (2006) – a non-fiction boo ...more
Pascale
A thorough - sometimes too thorough - account of the few weeks Van Gogh and Gauguin spent together in Arles in 1888. It gives a detailed account of their activities, and I was staggered to discover just how many paintings Van Gogh completed during this brief period. Also I didn't realize that all told, he had been much more prolific than Gauguin. Of course the outlines of the story, as well as its shocking conclusion, are well-known, and given the fact that Gayford doesn't have any revelations u ...more
Sharon
To quote the author, his purpose was "To put the reader in the same room as the person read about, even inside his head." I feel he did just that for me. Van Gogh is now a vivid person to me, his appearance, his moods, his studio, even his presence before an easel in a field. A slim, somewhat ragged, red-haired and bearded man, roughly dressed but deeply sensitive, warm, cowed by onlookers, and with colours and spiritual images swirling in his head, continually worried, lonely but with deep love ...more
Bonnie
I enjoyed this book, which details the nine weeks at the end of 1888 in which Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin shared a house in Arles in what Van Gogh hoped would be the start of a community of artists. Many paintings by both artists are discussed and I found it especially interesting when they worked on the same scene, with very different interpretations. This period ended badly as this was the year in which Van Gogh went mad and cut off his ear and was hospitalized. He was in and out of hosp ...more
Leslie

This book was really good. I wondered about it being written about just nine weeks, but the nine weeks were the focal point of this joint biography of Van Gogh and Gauguin. By the time I finished reading, I learned a lot about both men--from before, during, and after the nine weeks. The detailed knowledge that is available about how they lived is amazing. There is so much documentation available. How will biographers write about the amazing people of today, when we e mail and talk on the phone a
...more
Marsha
This is the factual tale of the 9 weeks in 1888 when artists Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh lived and worked together in Arles. It was a dramatic period for both men, and culminated in Van Gogh's famous ear slicing episode. While it wouldn't win a prize for eloquent prose, the somewhat elementary style of The Yellow House serves a purpose: it opens the world of late 19th century artists to readers who may not have backgrounds or deep interest in art history. The author diverges from existing ...more
Debbie Morrison
This was an excellent read that provided details about the nine weeks in France when Van Gogh and Gauguin lived together in the 'yellow house'. The author did considerable research and provided specifics on the towns people that the two artists interacted with, and the specifics on the correspondence via letters, which for the most part was with Van Gogh's brother Theo.

What I enjoyed most were the details given on specific artwork created by both artists during this time. The author described th
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Nicole
Interesting book about the lives of Van Gogh and Gauguin in Arles. It had lots of interesting information and read almost like a novel. There was a good amount of background about the time and the artists themselves. Before reading this book, my background knowledge was limited to what I had learned at the exhibit almost ten years ago, so I felt it gave me a good amount of information to bring me up to those nine weeks. The historian in me would have liked footnotes in the text to explain how th ...more
Helen Kitson
Most people - even those with only a vague interest in art history - know that Van Gogh painted sunflowers and cut off his own ear. The story of the nine weeks (from October to December 1888) during which Van Gogh and Gauguin lived together in the southern French town of Arles is well-documented, in both books and films. Is there any more, and anything meaningful, to be said on the topic?

Gayford deals chronologically with events during those nine weeks, recounting the seemingly superficial detai
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Sasha
I have mixed feelings about this book. I don't think I'd recommend it to someone solely on the basis of being a good read (it's not). Gayford needed a better editor, because though he is incredibly thorough and informative, he really needs someone to smooth out the prose. The book took me a while to get through, because it doesn't really lend itself to "reading" - it's more take some in, process for a while, and then read some more. There's so much in here that I think the better version of this ...more
KV Taylor
I'm gonna say first thing that this book wasn't written for art historians, so that it's beating what most would consider a thoroughly dead horse shouldn't be held against it. There are some aspects of Gayford's theories that I hadn't heard before--but it's way, way out of my area so that's not surprising. In his appendix on the subject of sources, Gayford claims that he doesn't think these more or less new theories of his are "extravagant" (well, he only uses that word once), but I actually tho ...more
Mari Mann
A really well- researched book; the author seems to have read every letter, every newspaper and book, every scrap of paper related to these two artists and the place, seen every painting and drawing and every actual place in and around Arles...and brings it all together in a coherent, compelling and moving account. If it is possible to divine what someone was thinking at a certain time based on all the above, this author has done it.

As a side or footnote, I believe, after reading this book and
...more
Jody
I think I've abandoned more books in the first three months of this year than the rest of my life combined.

This one suffered from my stressful week, I'm sure, but it just couldn't hold my interest. Neither Van Gogh not Gauguin seemed like a real person, and I kept getting bogged down in trivial details. I'm disappointed because Van Gogh is fascinating to me and I really hoped to learn more about him from this book.
Rena Sherwood
There was a telemovie made in the UK in 2007 based on this book. For once, the movie wound up being much better than the book. This book promises more than it can deliver. Just what happened between Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh remains just as mysterious as before reading this convoluted book. Although it is generously illustrated, none are in color -- a great handicap for two artists who were so devoted to color.

There are much better books about Van Gogh out there than "The Yellow House."

I
...more
Kim
This was an amazing look at the creative process and the rollercoaster of energy that Gaugain, Van Gogh, and the other artists in their lives surfed. Anyone interested in the artistic process and post-impressionism should give this a read.

Grabbed the book because the last one I read (Still Life by AS Byatt) referred to Van Gogh in a sub-plot. Plus I love his work. This one reads like an easy fictitious novel, yet is juicy and well rooted in factuality. And there's the beauty of his paintings as
...more
Alex Hackney
I had to force myself to finish this book. I'm sure there were good things about it, but I just couldn't see them for all the boring parts. It does give a good look into many aspects of Van Gogh's life, but it's not a book I'd suggest. I honestly don't see how people are so pleased by this book. I've always been fascinated by how Van Gogh's mental state effected his life and art, but I didn't come even close to enjoying this book. There was too much of "he painted this in that place and the pain ...more
Nathan
Despite its dry and perfunctory style, Martin Gayford's account of one of the most significant windows of time in art history is finely detailed and sharply focused. It serves as an illuminating supplement to the broader and more well-known events leading up to Van Gogh's death, and casts some light on the artistic chemistry between him and Gauguin. It is, however, just a supplement. Most of the narrative and chronological material has been covered elsewhere, many times. Unfortunately, this more ...more
Barry Bridges
Rated high because of my attraction to all thing Van Gogh. Van Gogh and Gauguin spend nine weeks in Arles, painting like madmen, budgeting their limited resources, and exchanging ideas. Gayford chronicles their time and the ultimate impact on the world of people who see things differently and love color.
ayrdaomei
Gayford has a tendency to meander and perhaps a little much love for adjectives, which really slows things down to the point of distraction. This book is on an interesting topic, and it would have been a fascinating read in the hands of a better writer, or maybe just a better editor.

My other big complaint about this book is the inconceivable use of black & white reprints of all the paintings referenced in the text. The author devotes a lot of ink to describing Van Gogh and Gauguin's rich an
...more
Vanessa
Loved this book. It is well researched and reads like a novel. Gayford does a particularly good job in the final chapter at discussing Van Gogh's mental health. I blogged about this book here.
Annmbray
A thrilling peek into the artist's mind! Also loved the chance to put specific paintings in context and to get a sense of what external and internal forces came to play in each painting. Plan to read Man with the Blue Scarf by the same author. It is a conversation with the late Lucien Freud on his artistic portfolio.
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