The Easel

Selfie with ‘Sunflowers’

A perennial debate in art is whether colour or line is most important. Many argue that Van Gogh’s greatness derives from his audacious use of colour. Recent books on his life, and his letters to his brother Theo show, according to the reviewer, that Van Gogh’s greatness lies elsewhere – in his “heroism” in the face of mental instability and “his intense desire to make painting ‘a consolatory art for distressed hearts’”.