When we first started putting together our brand new “Art + Travel Europe: Step into the Lives of Five Famous Painters”—our exhaustively researched guidebook that walks you through the biographies of Vermeer, Van Gogh, Goya, Munch, and Caravaggio via the places they worked and the cities they lived in—we thought we had a pretty high-concept way of documenting the stories of artists. After all, most people would simply go to Wikipedia to learn about Van Gogh, not all the way to Arles. But, as much as we thought we had the wildest way to get to know Van Gogh, we just found ourselves trumped by one of the great artist’s countrymen. Straight out of Holland, Dutch musician Diederick Van Eck has recorded an album of tracks that, for our money, constitute the weirdest biography of Van Gogh you’ll find anywhere.
Logically titled “Van Eck on Van Gogh”, the album offers up 12 tracks detailing various stages and themes of the troubled painter’s life recorded in. More than just a sonic biography, though, each of these songs is named for and written as an accompaniment to some of Van Gogh’s most recognized works. The lyrics to “Red Vineyard (Lost Letter to Theo)”, for instance, showcase the artist’s frustration with his brother after he sold the painting of the same name to a private bidder—the only time a Van Gogh would be sold in his lifetime. While this and many of the other phrases and ideas in “Van Eck on Van Gogh” veer on the historically spurious, it is, nonetheless, a soulful celebration of the man’s work and life. Just don’t expect the songs to offer the addresses of relevant museums or nearby places to catch a good meal. That’s our job.
For more information and to listen to the tracks, go to www.vangoghbyvaneck.com. To walk through Van Gogh’s life using your feet instead of your ears, order a copy of “Art + Travel Europe: Step into the Lives of Five Famous Painters”.
Image: “The Red Vineyard”, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888, courtesy of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow