ArtListings > News > Archive > Museum unconvinced by new Van Gogh death theory by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

Museum unconvinced by new Van Gogh death theory by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

18 October '11 by the editors | Source: www.artdaily.org

Two American authors believe Vincent van Gogh was fatally shot by two teenagers and did not die from self-inflicted wounds, but the new theory won a skeptical reception Monday from experts at the museum dedicated to the 19th century Dutch master.

A book by Pulitzer prize-winning authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, "Van Gogh, The Life," concludes that Van Gogh, who suffered chronic depression, claimed on his deathbed to have shot himself to protect the boys.

"Covering up his own murder," said Naifeh in an interview broadcast Sunday on the U.S. network CBS's "60 Minutes."

Leo Jansen, curator of the Van Gogh Museum and editor of the artist's letters, said the biography is a "great book," but experts have doubts about the authors' theory of his death in 1890.

"We cannot yet agree with their conclusions because we do not think there is enough evidence yet," Jansen told The Associated Press.

At the same time, there has never been any independent evidence to support Van Gogh's dying confession that he had shot himself.

"There's no proof. We just know what he said, and that's what people always went by," Jansen said.

Severely wounded in the chest, Van Gogh dragged himself to the rooming house in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, where he was staying. He died about 30 hours later after telling his brother Theo, several doctors and the police that he had shot himself while painting in a wheat field. The gun was never found.

Naifeh and Smith revived unanswered questions that have clouded Van Gogh's own story: How did the painter, who had a widely known history of mental illness, obtain a revolver, and what happened to it? Why would he shoot himself at such an odd angle and not put the muzzle next to his heart? How did he manage with his wound to make the difficult journey more than one mile (2 kilometers) through the fields back to town? And what happened to his painting gear?

The authors say an art historian who visited Auvers in the 1930s heard rumors from citizens who were alive in 1890 that Van Gogh had been shot accidentally by two boys.

They also discovered a "guilt-ridden" 1956 interview by a wealthy French businessman, Rene Secretan, who said he and his brother had known Van Gogh that summer and had tormented him mercilessly. Secretan, inspired by a Wild West show that was popular in France, borrowed a gun from the owner of the inn where Van Gogh was staying, but he claimed the artist stole it from him.

Secretan recalled in the interview that they taunted Van Gogh, a lonely man who craved company, by putting salt in his coffee and getting their girl friends to tease him with fake seductions. But the authors say Secretan was never asked if he had been involved in the shooting, and he died the following year.

Naifeh said the evidence indicates that the shooting "involved these two boys. And that it was either an accident or a deliberate act. Was it playing cowboy in some way that went awry? Was it teasing with the gun with Vincent lunging out? It's hard to know what went on at that moment."


Read entire article...


More news

Sotheby's, announces the sale of the first work by abstract expressionist post-war artist Nat Tate ever to appear at auction as part of the forthcoming Modern & Post-War British Art Sale, on Wednesday 16th November 2011.
18 October '11
www.artdaily.org


Business has held up despite the initial nervousness of exhibitors.
16 October '11
www.theartnewspaper.com


Lucian Freud and Alberto Burri paintings sold for $5 million each in London last night at a Sotheby’s auction overshadowed by concern about market weakness and a protest by U.S. art handlers over a labor dispute.
14 October '11
www.bloomberg.com


TEFAF Maastricht will celebrate its Silver Jubilee when it opens at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre) in the southern Netherlands from 16 – 25 March 2012.
15 October '11
www.tefaf.com


£150,000 fund enables gallery director Nicholas Serota to acquire three contemporary works at open-air art market.
14 October '11
www.guardian.co.uk


A Gerhard Richter painting sold for a record $16.6 million last night as Christie’s International boosted confidence in the top end of the contemporary-art market and reassured dealers at the end of a nervous “Frieze Week.”
15 October '11
www.bloomberg.com


Having won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for biography for “Jackson Pollock: An American Saga,” Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith will be back in bookstores on Tuesday with “Van Gogh: The Life.”
15 October '11
latimesblogs.latimes.com


Now in its 16th year, American International Fine Art Fair (AIFAF) is one of the premier art, antique and jewelry fair in the United States.
15 October '11
www.artdaily.org


Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, whose 81-day detention earlier this year caused an international outcry, has been named the art world's most powerful figure in a new ranking.
14 October '11
www.artdaily.org


Modern and contemporary art fairs are encouraging crossover collecting with a renewed focus on older art.
12 October '11
www.theartnewspaper.com


Once again, Frieze Art Fair opens its tent amid global economic uncertainty. The contemporary art fair faces the now familiar pressure of being the market’s first test of health following a summer of discontent.
12 October '11
www.theartnewspaper.com


On the heels of one art thief’s claims that he discarded the paintings he stole from a Paris museum comes another report of two Picasso works recovered in Serbia after a Swiss robbery.
12 October '11
www.cbc.ca


A survey conducted by LAPADA has revealed just how much the art and antiques trade relies on the cheque.
11 October '11
www.antiquestradegazette.com


From 11 October to 13 November 2011, a religious masterpiece will be on view in De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam: The Holy Family by Rembrandt (1645). For five weeks this painting can be admired in an ideal setting, displayed alone in the sanctuary, once the place of the high altar.
11 October '11
www.artdaily.org


A man suspected of hiding precious artwork stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art last year claims that in a panic, he threw the paintings into the garbage.
10 October '11
www.latimes.com


The Masters fair in London will sell historic work as well as contemporary art as the duo detects a 'new taste for the old'.
09 October '11
www.guardian.co.uk


Before his untimely death in 1980 at the age of 40, John Lennon made his mark on the world through his music, wooing throngs of adoring teenage girls as a Beatle and later as a solo artist, with songs like "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance."
09 October '11
www.artinfo.com


Opera Gallery presents the UK premier of new works by Mr Brainwash in an exhibition curated by Jean-David MALAT, Director of Opera Gallery London.
05 October '11
www.fadwebsite.com


Follow ArtListings
New on ArtListings
Latest art news
Art & Antiques Fairs