At Eternity's Gate: the Spiritual Vision of Vincent Van Goh
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 224 pages
Most scholars have argued that van Gogh was insane and that his religious life was a product of this madness - and was something he happily abandoned when he left the Christian ministry to pursue a career as an artist. This biography by Kathleen Powers Erickson is the first to demonstrate the falsehood of such assumptions and to argue that van Gogh's spiritual life was essential to the unfolding of his unique artistic vision. Basing her study on solid biographical evidence, van Gogh's personal correspondence, and informed insight into the painter's artistic imagery, Erickson clearly traces van Gogh's pilgrimage of faith, from his early religious training, through his evangelical missionary period, to his struggle with religion and modern thought, and finally to the synthesis of traditional Christian beliefs with the modern world-view that he achieved in both his life and his art. Unique to this study is Erickson's in-depth examination of van Gogh's mental illness, culminating in her convincing argument that van Gogh's "insanity," long assumed - indeed mythologically contrived - to be schizophrenia, was in fact a psychological disorder resulting from a form of epilepsy. Erickson shows that this famous facet of van Gogh's life, too, was not without a spiritual dimension. In addition, the volume includes five black-and-white pictures of van Gogh and members of his family and a collection of nineteen black-and-white illustrations that reproduce important pieces of van Gogh's artwork.
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