Although I’m fascinated with early Texas art and the painters who created these works, my favorite artist of all time and on many different levels is the Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). His distinctive and innovative use of thick paint, vivid colors, deep brush strokes, and swirling textures are everything I love in a painting. His compelling life and work inspired my favorite art-themed movie (“Lust for Life,” starring Kirk Douglas in 1956) and one of my favorite songs from when I was an impressionable kid back in the 1970s (“Vincent” by Don McLean).
So I found it interesting that two German art historians have released a book debunking the legend that Van Gogh cut off his own ear in a depressed state and gave the bloody appendage to a prostitute.
Authors Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans don’t dispute the prostitute part, but they claim that Van Gogh’s lobe was actually lopped of by his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin, and that both artists hid the truth for the rest of their lives.
The authors of Van Gogh’s Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence used letters, interviews, and police reports to conclude that an ill and unstable Van Gogh became aggressive toward Gauguin while sharing a house in France in 1888. Gauguin, an adept swordsman, cut of his friend’s ear either purposely or accidentally during a row.