Debora Silverman, the author of two previous works, Selling Culture and Art Nouveau in Fin-de-Siecle France, and the University of California Presidential Chair in Modern European History, Art, and Culture at UCLA has brought Van Gogh and Gauguin together in a bold new book. Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Search for Sacred Art is not only tempting and easily readable for the armchair art critic but deserves a place on the textbook sheet of any true Modern Art Course.
This newest work by Silverman proposes that the influence played by religion had the highest calling on these artists’ paintings. While both had different religious backgrounds both struggled to break free of the strong influence that religion was to play in all areas of their life. She suggests that for them and perhaps the entire Modernist Movement breaking free of the old religious vanguard into a newer, less rigid century was the primary reason for the new artistic look. Silverman proposes that perhaps the Modernist Movement was created by a deep yearning to shed onself of these puritanical chains.
Debora Silverman guides the reader through the tensions inherent in the times and within these great artists' minds that stemmed from their religious childhoods. She points out the profound effects of this struggle in each and every painting, in each and every method of paint to canvas created by these two men. She sees them each in their own way overcoming demons and transcending their dogmas on canvas. The case she builds stands on its own by the book’s end. Through lengthy and knowledgeable research, she ushers in a heady and exciting new lens for both the serious art critic and the occasional museum wanderer to look through when viewing Van Gogh’s and Gauguin’s creations.