Michael Kimmelman | New York Review of Books | 5th February 2015
Any large collection of van Gogh paintings will reveal the astonishing transformation in his art that occurred during his time in Paris in 1886-8. Julian Bell’s new biography of van Gogh sets out the personal back story. Having tried being an art dealer, a teacher and, at one stage, a preacher, all the while behaving like a drama queen, the van Gogh who arrived in Paris was producing notable drawings but heavy, wintery paintings. Incredibly, less than two years later, a genius painter of colour was revealed.