Booklists Recommendations

Artist Focus: Van Gogh

by Public Service Associate Juliana

Are you planning to visit the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit Columbus? Or maybe you already have? Perhaps the buzz alone has sparked your interest to learn more about the artist and his work. I recently checked ticket availability and discovered the exhibit date has been extended through February 27. That allows time for some homework. As a self-described lifelong learner, I draw great joy from a tall stack of study materials. When I go to the exhibit it will not be a Wikipedia-on-the-way type situation. This month, I plan to spend a couple of mornings before work with art books open on the kitchen table, followed by evenings absorbed in Van Gogh biopics. Immersive is in the exhibit’s title, and I want a truly immersive experience, which wouldn’t be complete without a worthy read and watch list.  Let’s indulge in Van Gogh, shall we?

The following items are in my study stack. A few are timeless, some are new, some are for young adults, one is even a graphic novel.


1.Vincent by Barbara Stok; translation by Laura Watkinson (2014)| graphic novel

“Writer and illustrator Barbara Stok breathes riveting new life into a fascinating episode of art history, creating a vivid portrait of one of the world’s most beloved and legendary artists.”

provided by publisher

2. In Search of Van Gogh: Capturing the Life of the Artist through Photographs and Paintings by Gloria Fossi (2021)| print

“In 1990, two photographers and art enthusiasts, Danilo De Marco and Mario Dondero, set out to explore the details of Vincent Van Gogh’s life, retracing his journey across Europe by foot and by train.”

provided by publisher

3. Van Gogh: A Power Seething by Julian Bell (2015)| print

“Julian Bell’s passion for his subject brings the painter to life. Bell writes with slashing intensity, at once scholarly and defiantly partisan.”

provided by publisher

4. Van Gogh: Up Close ed. by Cornelia Homburg (2012)| print

“This sumptuously illustrated book offers a completely new way of looking at the art of Vincent van Gogh, by exploring the artist’s approach to nature through his innovative use of the close-up view.”

provided by publisher

5. Van Gogh and the Artists He Loved by Steven Naifeh (2021)| print

“Vincent van Gogh’s paintings look utterly unique—his vivid palette and boldly interpretive portraits are unmistakably his. Yet however revolutionary his style may have been, it was actually built on a strong foundation of paintings by other artists, both his contemporaries and those who came before him.” 

provided by publisher

6. What Makes a Van Gogh a Van Gogh by Richard Muhlberger (1993)| print

“The composition, line, color, and subject matter of 12 of Van Gogh’s paintings are analyzed, while the world he lived and worked in is also explored.”

provided by publisher

7. Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story by Bernadette Murphy (2016)| print

“As it reopens one of art history’s most famous cold cases, Van Gogh’s Ear becomes a fascinating work of detection. It is also a study of a painter creating his most iconic and revolutionary work, pushing himself ever closer to greatness even as he edged toward madness—and one fateful sweep of the blade that would resonate through the ages.”

provided by publisher

8. Vincent & Theo by Deborah Heiligman (2019)| digital audiobook

 “Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the extraordinary love of the Van Gogh brothers.”

provided by publisher

9. Lust for Life by Irving Stone (1984)|Avail. through the consortium / digital audiobook

“The most famous of all of Stone’s novels, it is the story of Vincent Van Gogh—brilliant painter, passionate lover, and alleged madman. Here is his tempestuous story: his dramatic life, his fevered loves for both the highest-born women and the lowest prostitutes, and his paintings—for which he was damned before being proclaimed a genius.”

provided by publisher


1. Vincent & Theo (1990)| dvd

“Oscar winner Robert Altman directs this biography of a struggling Vincent Van Gogh and his relationship with Theo, his art-dealer brother. Starring actors Tim Roth and Paul Rhys. Beautifully acted and visually stunning. “

2. At Eternity’s Gate (2019) | dvd

 “While grappling with religion, mental illness and a tumultuous friendship with French artist Paul Gauguin, van Gogh begins to focus on his relationship with eternity rather than the pain his art causes him in the present.”

3. Loving Vincent (2017)|dvd / digital

“In a story depicted in oil painted animation, a young man comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk) to deliver the troubled artist’s final letter and ends up investigating his final days there.”

4. Van Gogh (1991) | foreign dvd

“The final sixty-seven days of Van Gogh’s life are examined.”

5. Van Gogh’s Ear (2016)| documentary dvd / digital

“Scientists investigate what happened on the night of Dec. 23, 1888, when in Arles, France Vincent van Gogh cut his ear off.”

6. Van Gogh: A Kaleidoscopic Portrait of a Tormented Artist (2007)| dvd

“This award-winning film paints a kaleidoscopic, impressionistic picture of the life and loves of the acclaimed artist Vincent Van Gogh; starring Golden Globe winner Linus Roache as the eccentric, tormented genius.”