FROM THE COVER
Here is a vivid, poetic, and evocative story of the painter Vincent van Gogh’s struggle to become his true self. The author listens in on Vincent’s most intimate, frequently startling thoughts on a host of topics, drawn from three volumes of his correspondence and his 900 extant paintings.
What emerges is the portrait of an artist whose spiritual vision was born of an agonizingly prolonged experience of the “dark night of the soul” through which his art dared to intimate the triumph of joy over sorrow, of resurrection over suffering and death. Readers will discover that in many ways Vincent’s story is as much about us as about him.
Tracing van Gogh’s pilgrimage from being an apprentice art dealer to being called to minister, in self-renunciation and misery, among destitute coal miners, the narrative follows his winding, tortuous path into adulthood as he struggles with family, associates, lovers—and with himself.
Constantly evidenced in Vincent’s own eloquent words and paintings is his tussle with the mysterious presence and maddening absence of God. Vocation unveils as a process of summoning and birthing his own self, through an attempt to imitate Christ, calling forth van Gogh’s extraordinarily creative powers from deep within.
Adding choice supplies from other observers, Davidson here weaves his own exact, artful tapestry of interpretation, producing a suspenseful excursion into the life of van Gogh that offers profound meaning at every turn.
LIFE’S MOST SIGNIFICANT TURNINGS arise not so much from conscious awareness of obvious destinies as from unconscious streams of necessity to which we are irrepressibly drawn. Painting, like poetry, song, or dance, is vocation—a “calling forth,” a “summoning”—and in that sense a “birthing” of something deep from within, tied to a transcending future with primal roots in a grounding past. (Bone Dead, and Rising, 69)