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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  5,881 ratings  ·  200 reviews
From October to December 1888, Paul Gauguin shared a home in Arles with Vincent van Gogh. This was, without doubt, the most celebrated cohabitation in art history: never, before or since have two such towering artistic talents been penned up in so small a space. They were the Odd Couple of art history. Predictably, the results were explosive. The dâenouement of their life ...more
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Little Brown and Company (first published April 6th 2006)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  5,881 ratings  ·  200 reviews

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Jason Reeser
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This densely written little book doesn’t fall within the current category of "nonfiction books that read like novels," but what the author lacks in narrative style he makes up for in depth of research and a contagious enthusiasm for his subject matter.

The book relates the events during the two months in 1888 in which Van Gogh and Gaughin lived and worked together in Arles. The deterioration and disastrous end results of this initially promising commune of artists are well known, i.e., the lobbed
Aug 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Michael Flick
Dec 07, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worst
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
Michele H.
I learned a lot about Van Gogh and Gauguin's relationship while they lived together for a short time in Arles, along with lots of interesting details about their paintings and philosophies. The colorful episodes that Van Gogh vacillated between highlighted his great creativity yet also his mental anguish.
I checked out Vincent's Paintings by Ralph Skea when I was about halfway through the book, so that I could see the paintings in color, which really helped. Since this book only has black and whi
Scott Walker
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
My ma bought me the wrong book for Christmas. Easily done and no complaints here as this gem turned out to be a surprisingly delightful read. Hoping for the other ' the yellow house' title for my birthday 🤞 ...more
Sandra Danby
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
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
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book for many reasons. It was an interesting insight into the relationship between Vincent and Gauguin and the influence they had on each other's art. I loved the pictures and analyses of the paintings and sketches, some of which I had not seen before, especially where a comparison was made between Vincent and Gaugin's paintings of the same subject at the same time. The description of contemporary events (like Theo watching the construction of the Eiffel Tower from his window) and w ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin lived together for a few months in Arles, where they each produced some of their most famous paintings. But all was not peace and artistic harmony, and a lot of the problems stemmed from Vincent's volatility. This was an interesting and unflinching look at their lives during this time, including the bickering and brothels and madness. Both of them wrote Vincent's brother (an art dealer) and others often, so there's quite a bit of documentation of how the two fel ...more
Becky Loader
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I had no idea that Van Gogh and Gauguin shared a house in France for a period of time.

These two painters were polar opposites in many ways, but they shared a house for a short time to work on their art in a beautiful, tranquil area. They produced a lot of significant art during their time together. I especially liked how the setting was described before the two famous artists arrived on the scene. I also liked learning about the commercial business behind being a famous artist. Some things never
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Moving, as you would expect from a narrative based on Vincent. The writing merges excerpts from sources and the writers own narration beautifully. A very detailed, almost day by day recollection of the period of Vincent's life in the Yellow House. The last few chapters especially are heart-rendering. ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just saw the wonderful "Loving Vincent" film, and I figured no better time to read it, now that I have the backstory as to what happened in the weeks before Van Gogh's suicide. I've had this book for a couple of years after picking up a hard copy in a local used bookstore. Stay tuned. ...more
POPSUGAR 2021: a book about art or an artist
mis fit
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Very interesting book-- it was awesome to learn the context of some of Van Gogh's amazing works. This is a well-written and enjoyable read. ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Barry Pierce
The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles (2006) by Martin Gayford is a biography of the brief period in which two of the greatest painters of the late 19th century attempted to live together. It sounds like the plot of some failed sitcom – Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin share a house and the result is a rip-roaring romp! Or not. Both artist had famously large personalities and quite differing styles and ideologies so the combination of their lifestyles in the sam ...more
Apr 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because of the voluminous correspondence and careful research, the level of detail about their days is incredible. It really allows you to imagine the vigorous work and unstable emotional dynamics of the household. The only way it could be substantially improved would be with full-color images of the relevant paintings. But, then the book would be wildly expensive to produce. (Besides, this was a paperback).

It's one of the few works of detailed art history that I've read, and it was really wonde
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Ralph Britton
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, art
In contrast to the Taschen Complete Works of Van Gogh, which I read just before and which was informative, worthy and a bit dull, this is lively and inspirational. Gayford gives us insight after insight into both painters and encourages us to look again at their work and think about it. I had not realised that Van Gogh had read and thought so deeply and incessantly about his art, or that he was formidably well educated, speaking and reading both English and French easily. You need a tablet to lo ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, read-in-2011
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. ...more
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Dec 19, 2013 marked it as lookedinto-decidedagainst
Recommended to Bettie by: Adevotedreader (aka Sarah)
As Pat points out, the pictures are in Black and White only. I have also just noticed that Kris returned a 2*

So nope ...
Jennifer Harvey
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read
Lisa Maxwell
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A brilliant, well-researched expose' of the brief time that Vincent van Gogh cohabitated and collaborated with Paul Gaugin, The Yellow House is a quite-good primer for those, like me, who are relatively unlearned in art history. Having read Julian Bell's A Power Seething, I was prepared for a dry recounting of van Gogh's all-too-brief life and rampant speculation about his lopped-off ear in grandiose prose. But Gayford's book bears little resemblance to Bell's -- which may be the reason why art ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, biography, gauguin
One of my favourite artists is Vincent van Gogh. The book jacket cover depicts probably the most well known painting by van Gogh to have emerged from his time spent with Paul Gauguin during the nine week period of late October through Christmas 1888 in Arles, France.

The author explained in his acknowledgments that he "wanted to write a biographical work which...put the reader in the same room as the person read about, even inside his head. The Yellow House is my attempt to do so."

The book provi
Renato Renato
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Best book I've read so far this year. It really takes you on a closely experience of what Vicent's and Gauguin's lives were like during the intense short period they lived together in Arles, southern France. If one didn't know that the story was true one could say this book is a very compeling novel.
For some years I have been interested in Vincent's life story. I have watched movies and documentaries. I have been to his museum in Amsterdam where I bought this fascinanting work where the author
Kimberly Hancock
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-history
I learned some things I didn’t know about Van Gogh and Gauguin and their contemporaries. The author ties the events of the “nine turbulent weeks in Arles” with letters, historical events and even the weather that were unfolding at the same time. It is apparent from the “notes on sources” and the bibliography that this book was well researched. Unfortunately, I think a person interested in the minutiae of nine weeks in a person’s life will long for detailed footnotes. The author states his dissat ...more
Mikayla Taflinger
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
The Yellow House is about the short period that Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin lived together in a small yellow house in France in 1888. The men were two fabulous painters with clashing personalities fighting at every turn Vincent acts more boy like and live more simple where Gauguin lives a more adult upscale lifestyle going to the bar and hanging out with prostitutes. But they learned from each other about different techniques and styles Gauguin tries to teach Van Gogh that painting should ...more
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Martin Gayford is an art critic and art historian. He studied philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London. Over three decades, he has written prolifically about art and music in a series of major biographies, as well as contributing regularly to newspapers, magazines and exhibition catalogues. In parallel with his career ...more

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