Darrell Reimer's Reviews > Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age

Solar Dance by Modris Eksteins
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May 10, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

One of the enduring mysteries surrounding Vincent Van Gogh is just exactly how was he transformed from an unpleasant eccentric who shot himself in a field before any of his paintings fetched so much as a sheckel, into . . . well, Van Gogh?

Time and place are paramount to the Van Gogh Story, and, if Modris Eksteins is to be believed, Weimar Berlin especially so. Ekstein's beat is exploring the cultural upheavals that accompanied and contributed to the 20th Century European horrors. In Van Gogh's post-death success, and an infamous forgery scandal that briefly captured the attention of Germans and Western culturati in general, Eksteins finds a narrative that can stand as both a metaphor and morality tale for that particular time and place.

As with his earlier book, Rites Of Spring, it is apparent on every page that Eksteins has struck on material that enervates him. Eksteins' energy is infectious, and his eye for the telling detail hooks and holds the reader. Solar Dance is a fabulous story, adroitly told, which raises some subtly disruptive questions about the place and value of art in our own time.

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