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Van Gogh's Ghost Paintings

One of the most significant and revealing paintings by the world famous artist Vincent van Gogh was never seen by anyone but the artist himself. The painting was so important to the artist that he painted it twice. He was so conflicted about the painting that he destroyed it twice. Cliff Edwards argues these two unique paintings Vincent created and destroyed are at least as important to understanding the artist and his work as are the two thousand or more paintings and drawings that do exist. In Van Gogh's Ghost Paintings, Edwards invites his readers on a journey that begins in a Zen master's room in Japan and ends at a favorite site of the artist, a ruined monastery and its garden in the south of France. Recovering the intent of van Gogh and the nature of his ""ghost paintings"" becomes a ""zen koan"" waiting to be solved. The solution offers access to the deepest levels of the artist's life as painter and spiritual pilgrim. The journey leads to the artist's choice of the biblical theme of the Garden of Gethsemane. The answer to the mystery of the lost paintings illuminates the relationship of joy and suffering, discovery and creation, religion and the arts in van Gogh's life and work. In this fascinating book Edwards solves a long-ignored mystery that provides a critical key to the relation of van Gogh's religion and art. ""This is a superb work. The author's fearless journey into the life of van Gogh and the interiority of the writing take the reader herself into solitude, loneliness, labor, triumph, and sorrow. It is a complex work . . . [W]e tread with this book the very path van Gogh himself hesitated on and wrestled with himself on: the seeming contradiction between the intellect and the spirit in art, a contradiction that survives to the present."" --Elizabeth C. King, sculptor, university professor, 2002 Guggenheim Fellow, 2006 recipient of the Academy Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and author of Attention's Loop ""Cliff Edwards' Van Gogh's Ghost Paintings is at once a riveting mystery and a beautiful meditation on sacrifice and art. The book extends a compelling invitation to sit at the feet of a master teacher as he takes readers on a fascinating, heartbreaking, and heart-healing journey to discover what has never been. This is a richly rewarding investigation that illuminates the darkest intersection of van Gogh's spirituality and art with uplifting tenderness and compassion. Gorgeous, inspiring, and wise."" --Kristin M. Swenson, author of Bible Babel, and coauthor of What Is Religious Studies? A Journey of Inquiry ""After all these decades of van Gogh studies, finally someone opens up for us Vincent's deepest quest and convincingly shows that the art of the 'sorrowful, yet always rejoicing' Dutch painter is of deep theological and spiritual significance. Edwards' astute understanding of Zen Buddhism, as well as of Christianity, has allowed him to portray Vincent as one of the most significant spiritual figures of the nineteenth century--an artist who fully deserves the attention of modern theologians interested in interreligious dialogue."" --A 1989 assessment of Edwards' contributions to van Gogh studies by Dutch theologian Henri Nouwen Cliff Edwards is Professor of Religion in the School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. His education spans East and West. With a PhD in biblical studies and world religions from Northwestern University, he has studied in France, Switzerland, Israel, and a Zen monastery in Japan, and has been a Coolidge Fellow in New York and a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University. Among his books are Van Gogh and God, The Shoes of Van Gogh, and Mystery of the Night Cafe, as well as a biblical commentary and two books on haiku.
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