Summary

In Breaking van Gogh, James Grundvig investigates the history and authenticity of van Gogh's iconic Wheat Field with Cypresses, currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Relying on a vast array of techniques from the study of the painter's biography and personal correspondence to the examination of the painting's style and technical characteristics, Grundvig proves that the "most expensive purchase" housed in the Met is a fake.
The Wheat Field with Cypresses is traditionally considered to date to the time of van Gogh's stay in the Saint-Rémy mental asylum, where the artist produced many of his masterpieces. After his suicide, these paintings languished for a decade, until his sister-in-law took them to a family friend for restoration. The restorer had other ideas.
In the course of his investigation, Grundvig traces the incredible story of this piece from the artist's brushstrokes in sunlit southern France to a forger's den in Paris, the art collections of a prominent Jewish banking family and a Nazi-sympathizing Swiss arms dealer, and finally the walls of the Met. The riveting narrative weaves its way through the turbulent history of twentieth-century Europe, as the painting's fate is intimately bound with some of its major players.
©2016 James O. Grundvig (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.
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1 out of 5 stars
By Paul on 09-05-18

Could have been good with an editor

The book becomes unreadable/unlistenable in the last two hours. While in the beginning the author presents a somewhat solid case in acceptable language, towards the middle the quality sharply drops off.
It’s like only half the book was edited. The second half is raging, chaotic, grandiose and arrogant in tone, states assumptions as facts, gives characters inner monologues that are not backed up but anything and overall reads like a clickbait article written on flashcards and then shuffled.
I caught myself mumbling „what?“ multiple times towards the end as the author found it necessary to point out that the titanic sunk in the same year as some event or - completely without context - suddenly disclaiming that he believes that all cases of looted WW2 will be resolved by 2045, which he then doesn’t back up or elaborate on with a single further word.
The reading is similarly bad, getting overexcited at times, stoically trotting on at others and mispronouncing even basic French and German terms do badly that they become incomprehensible.

In summary, unless your rally want to spend 4 hours of your life listening to something that can only be described as a crossover of angry conspiracy talk radio and a clickbait „you won’t believe what happens next“ article, give this one a pass.

The quality of the writing is a shame as the author initially seems to be making a good point, which is utterly lost in the last two hours of disorganized rambling.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By mary on 15-09-17

Van No

As painter I bought this book for interest in Vincent Van Gogh. I have listened to this book four times. There is a lot of information. I will be buying a hard copy. I have learned a lot regarding how Vincent worked as a painter and his technique. There is a lot of information regarding the stolen paintings from World War 2. I would recommend this to anyone interested in painting and to all the Van Gogh enthusiasts.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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