Item description for Van Gogh: The Complete Paintings (Taschen Specials) by Ingo F. Walther & Rainer Metzger...
A complete catalogue of the 871 paintings and a detailed monograph on his life and art
This study of Vincent van Gogh represents a rare and happy chance in art history, combining a detailed monograph on his life and art with a complete catalogue of the 871 paintings by one of the greatest modern artists. This volume also reproduces most of van Gogh's paintings in colour for the first time.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.75" Width: 7.75" Height: 10" Weight: 4.9 lbs.
Release Date Aug 1, 2001
ISBN 3822812153 ISBN13 9783822812150
Availability 0 units.
More About Ingo F. Walther & Rainer Metzger
Ingo F. Walther was born in Berlin and studied medieval studies, literature, and art history in Frankfurt am Main and Munich. He has published numerous books on the art of the Middle Ages and of the 19th and 20th centuries. He died on April 21, 2007.
Reviews - What do customers think about Van Gogh: The Complete Paintings (Taschen Specials)?
Superbly illustrated Feb 3, 2008
This single volume edition ISBN 3822812153 published in 2001 containing 740 pages was originally issued in two separate volumes. It contains all of the about 870 paintings comprising the artist's complete output, reproduced in full colour with just a few exceptions where for any of several legitimate reasons a colour picture is not available.
It is an admirable effort, the quality of printing is superb, and the standard of photography in many instances is excellent showing the texture of the paint and brush work. In the case of the latter the paintings truly sing out from the page. The pictures are presented chronologically, which in itself is very revealing. The text is extensive and very informative, and being largely based on Van Gogh's letters makes truly fascinating reading and lends an intimate edge. It provides a background to the artist's life and his work and influences.
I should mention a couple of points. Many of the reproductions are quite small, less than post card size, some considerably less; there are of course some half page and full page size too. The other point is that while the text and illustrations are fully integrated there is little if any relationship between the text and image on each page. When there is a reference in the text to a picture the picture is invariably to be found many pages apart. Of course with the pictures presented chronologically this was bound to be a problem; but would it then not have been better to separate the two completely. One could also argue for a larger page size, but a least at this fairly modest size the book is at least not unwieldy.
That aside this is a splendid book; and one of the best surprises is that while there are of course many very familiar paintings here, the less familiar are by no means overshadowed by them; it is in fact a revelation to find so many superb yet relatively unknown works. Tremendous value, a book not to be passed over.
Van Gogh - a major study Oct 30, 2006
To those of us who have seen only some of van Gogh's paintings in international galleries this book, bringing together every painting that he did, and many drawings, is a constant source of pleasure and interest tempered only by regret that the artist received so little recognition in his lifetime and by his tragic end. The quality of the reproductions is high and the text gives a sensitive and scholarly review of his life, his work and his motives and makes considerable reference to his letters. It ends with a useful illustrated chronology of van Gogh's life. Because there are more paintings than text one is forced to turn pages, sometimes many, to find a painting referred to in the text but this is inevitable unless one is to have merely a catalogue, with comments, of his works. Walther and Metzger are to be congratulated on this fine work.
A Must Have for all Van Gogh Fans out there! Oct 29, 2006
First off, I must point out that I did not read the English version of this, but the French one; since it's a translation, it should basically be the same.
Taschen has the nice habit of making great books for comparatively very cheap prices; and that is once again the case with this collection of all Van Gogh paintings. The paper is top quality (glazed is it? I forget how it's called, but it's the same as you find in every other taschen publication) and the size of the book ensures a good view on the paintings.
I had read 2 books relating Vincent's life, so when it came to read another text on him and his work, I already knew most of of the bulk of that artist's life; however, this wasn't redundant at all. The authors have interesting things to say and usually do so in ways that won't kill you with boredom (even if I sometimes don't agree with the theories proposed). Substantial citations from Van Gogh's letters are used there, which is good, since Vincent wrote a lot. The book does a good work of setting Vincent Van Gogh in context, letting us know what authors he read, and what kind of human being he was. And Vincent was a particularly wonderful human being in my opinion, something this book does not fail to show.
Now as to the pictures of the paintings, what can I say? If you like Van Gogh's art, you'll like them. And even though you may not like everything he's ever done, it's worthwhile to have the whole thing to see the evolution of his art from a very dark and gloomy universe to a violently colourful one.
I definitely recommend this book for everyone interested in knowing more about Van Gogh than the basics. The book is a beautiful object as well, pretty heavy, but very classy.
Of course it isn't as beautiful as in person, but what a great body of work in one place! Feb 21, 2006
This is a very nice publication to have on your shelf. Van Gogh is an icon of Western culture and it is almost certain that you can call more than a few of his images to mind quite easily. What this provides is a greater context for those several images by providing what it calls "the complete paintings". I have no ability to say whether it is complete or not, but I can say that the vast number of paintings reproduced here provide a wonderful context and the images become more connected and make quite a bit more sense than they do in isolation.
Are the color reproductions perfect? Of course not! Mechanical coloring cannot approach the vivid colors these paintings have in real life. I am always pleasantly surprised when I get to an art museum and see real colors up close and personal. Things are so wonderfully vivid! The texture of the surfaces is also fabulous to see in person.
But a book can never be as brilliant as seeing the painting in person. However, for a few dollars you can survey a body of work you will never be able to see in a lifetime. So, it is a fair trade off. Just make sure you get to a good museum as frequently as you can to enrich you senses and your soul.
The text accompanying the paintings is really very good. The problem is that is provided next to a painting by Van Gogh and one's eyes can barely stay on the text. I find myself drifting to every nearby painting and focusing on that more than what the editors are telling me about Van Gogh's life and work.
Very much recommended. The binding, Paper or Hardcover is irrelevant for home use. Pick whichever you prefer and can afford. For heavy use, obviously the hardcover is the better choice.
A few comments on van Gogh's space Nov 26, 2005
I used this book to research the fascinating problem of the perceptual and spatial distortions in van Gogh's paintings, for which it was very helpful, so later I make a few comments on that for what its worth.
I've seen dozens of books on van Gogh's art, and this one is one of the few on the market that contains his complete output. Although the book contains some commentary, for me the most important thing was the reproduction of the paintings. Of course, book plates can't do full justice to the original paintings, but for color plates these are pretty decent. Van Gogh often just squeezed the paint directly onto the canvass from the tubes without mixing them, so one way you can tell if a color plate of a van Gogh painting is good is to look at one that you know of where he did this and see if the colors look right, and if they're close to full saturation. If they look washed out or off in some way, you'll know they're not. But overall, I thought these were pretty good.
As I said, I used this for some research, so I include those comments here for anyone who might be interested in some of the more technical aspects of van Gogh's paintings. However, you don't have to read them since they are pretty dry and technical :-).
As Ernst Gombrich has shown, analyzing space in a picture is an extremely complex business. The fact that even sophisticated observers sometimes form mistaken impressions of a pictorial space is itself an interesting phenomenon and illustrates an important principle of the human visual system, which is that it is not very good at evaluating precise metrical relationships. If the space is so constructed that it is at least internally consistent, it may look realistic when it is not, and the space may even seem distorted when it is not.
Considering the problem of the different recession rates for the objects in van Gogh's paintings, how do we account for these distortions? We could simply dismiss them as errors resulting from van Gogh's inability to paint perspectivally, but would be a mistake, for the following reasons:
1) The magnitude and direction of the errors in the sizes of objects are consistent with known psychophysical mechanisms of size constancy.
2) There is a strong shape constancy effect, and also (as John Ward has pointed out), such as in the two chairs and the pictures on the wall (in his Bedroom at Arles).
3) Van Gogh's failure to map out an initial, precise, major metric eliminates the most important perspective cue for object scaling and thus permits the inherent constancy-scaling effects of the human visual system to surface.
4) Although distorted perspectivally, the space is nevertheless internally consistent. This is to be expected from the operation of secondary size-constancy effects.
5) The technique of squinting to enhance one's depth of field, which van Gogh is known to have used, would reinforce cues to size constancy by essentially putting the station point behind the artist.
Points 4 and 5 require further discussion.
As noted earlier, secondary size constancy is the tendency for the sizes of objects to correlate with other perspective cues. Even in a painting with a very poorly defined or no major metric (such as in van Gogh's Bedroom), most perspective errors are not random. If they were, the errors would occur in both positive and negative directions about some mean value and would therefore average out. This is rarely the case, however. Usually the errors show a consistent trend. This is because once a given direction and magnitude of deviation has been established, other cues tend to be altered accordingly for the sake of consistency. This can be seen in van Gogh's Bedroom where different objects show similar effects. Although the objects themselves show different vanishing points, the size effect is nevertheless the same.
Van Gogh is also known to have used squinting in order to increase his depth of field. Doing this would cause both foreground and background objects to appear simultaneously more in focus and therefore would have the effect of putting the station point artificially in back of the observer. Durer illustrated a device to accomplish this in his treatise on perspective, but simply squinting strongly can produce a powerful effect of several feet.
Schapiro, Heelan, and various other writers have commented on the sense of realism which van Gogh's paintings create in the viewer. But at this point we could ask why, if van Gogh's perspective space is in many ways so imprecise, we continue to see it as powerful and realistic? Partly it is due to the fact that although there are many spatial distortions present, the space is nevertheless consistent with psychophysical expectations and the distortions due to size constancy are of the proper psychophysical magnitude. This is perhaps to be expected given van Gogh's interest in objects and in the depiction of objects for their own sake. The result is that objects possess more autonomy in van Gogh's paintings than they would if he had taken pains to construct a unified perspective space and thus show appropriate psychophysical effects.
The main reason, however, concerns a fundamental principle of mammalian visual systems. It has been demonstrated repeatedly in experiments that the human visual system is a poor detector of the absolute values of such things as brightness and distance. On the other hand, the visual system is very good at preserving relationships and relative levels of things. Our eyes, for example, throw away information about luminous intensity but conserve and even enhance information about relative brightness and contrast borders, as in the well-known case of Mach bands. This mechanism enables us to easily detect the outlines of objects under varying levels of illumination. In fact, the visual system is such a good extractor of lines that it creates them where they don't even exist or where they are only suggested, as in the well-known case of illusory and subjective contours.
A similar phenomenon occurs in space perception. As I discussed earlier in this article, many experiments have shown that people rarely view paintings from the proper perspective point, and yet experience very little distortion in the perceived objects. This suggests that the visual system constructs an internal model which preserves the relations between the objects in a scene. When distortions occur, the visual system is capable of compensating internally for the perceived distortion. In practical terms, this means that the perspective may depart substantially, both quantitatively and qualitatively, from reality and yet be seen as realistic if it is not too greatly distorted and if the space is at least internally consistent.
What all this shows is that artists are, in essence, perceptual problem solvers, or, as Rudolph Arnheim has said, "visual thinkers." Such a view is, I believe, preferable to the idea that the artist paints from some inexplicable or mysterious talent, or from some sort of abnormal psychology or pathology.