Vincent van Gogh is the world’s most popular and expensive artist, the father of modern art, and yet no one really knows how he died, when, how or where. If he didn’t commit suicide, what happened?
If Vincent did commit suicide, why would the master of expressionism fail to express himself on his own death?
Why would a man whose art, beloved for its effusiveness, remain mum on this most primary of primary motives; why not reveal his motives for snuffing out his own yellow flame?
Why would someone who wrote so many letters – 830 that we know of, at a rate of almost a letter a day – fail to write a suicide note on the day of his death?
Why would anyone who wanted to escape his painful existence, shoot himself in the stomach, only to endure an agonising 30 hour exit?
Why did Vincent cut off his ear, and how much ear did really he cut off? Does the calculus hold, that the bigger the piece of severed ear, the more tortured, the more mad, the artist must be in the eyes of the world?
Why was Vincent such a tortured artist? What is the modern medical diagnosis for his particular brand of mental illness?
“We want to inflate the various theories into bulging balloons, float them alongside one another and then reach for the true crime needle. The process of popping the unlikelier versions dogging Vincent’s story, fundamental as it may be to the popular museum and PR narrative, must be balanced by the synthesis of a new version, a new integrated picture of what happened that has never been painted before …”
In The Murder of Vincent van Gogh true crime maestro Nick van der Leek does what few have done in over a century of feverish postulations – he blows away the murk and reveals the motive behind the most beloved artist’s unhappy end, and does so in expressive, crystal clear detail.