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Second in a Series of 3 on The Enhanced e-book, e+.

New Post goes up each Wednesday at 8:30 pm ET.30


The possibilities are endless. How about  looking  at what we could do with these two different artists.

We’ve chosen Van Gogh: The Lifethe acclaimed biography of Vincent Van Gogh by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, to put together one example of what an enhanced e-book biography might contain. An e+ version of Van Gogh: The Life might include links to the Van Gogh Letters, which is a remarkable site of all of Vincent’s Letters.

The Van Gogh Letters site displays, all in one window, a copy of the original in Van Gogh’s own hand, a version in Dutch, an English translation,  and a sketch  by Van Gogh pictured in the margin of the letter or referred to in the text, which will link up with the final painting. Also, there are further links to sites about other painters he refers to, or who the editor believes influenced the artist. The site is arranged in chronological order and in fully searchable.

To take the liberty of a possible example, imagine a collaboration between the authors of Van Gogh: The Life, the Van Gogh Museum and the Van Gogh Letters, and Google Art.

The  biography, on page 635 discusses Van Gogh’s paining the Night Café:

“For three nights in a row … Vincent returned to the perdition beneath his bed[room] to capture in color and paint the feeling of the isolation and  marginalization he found there…. Over this battleground of ‘clashes and contrasts’, Vincent cast a merciless yellow glow. Four hanging lanterns, radiating strokes of yellow, orange, and green, beat down like four suns on the denizens of this unnatural world, exposing them like a searchlight, casting only the single shadow of the billiard table in the middle of the room.”

Van Gogh, in his letter to his brother, Theo, from Arles dated September 9, 1888, gives a very coherent and articulate explanation his choice of colors and of what he was trying to convey  in the  Night Café painting:

“In my painting of the Night Café I’ve tried to express the idea that the café is a place where you can ruin yourself, go mad, commit crimes. Anyway, I tried with contrasts of delicate pink and blood-red and wine-red. Soft Louis XV and Veronese green contrasting with yellow greens and hard blue greens.All of that in an ambience of a hellish furnace, in pale sulphur.”

Although Night Café is  not yet a part of the Google Art Project. Google Art provides extraordinary close up views of other ov Van Gogh’s work such as Stary Night. Links to Google Art Project in an e+ biography of Van Gogh will make the experience of reading about and viewing his work immediate,and unique.



In a prior post we discussed some of the possible elements. Of an e+ biography of Jackson Pollack. One small example of what might be included in an e+ biography is original footage of Pollock working and talking about his art at the same time.

As to his work, some say it is inarticulate and meaningless. This raises three of the central issues in art: how the artist worked, what the artist was “trying” to say, and what the work means to the viewer. Who can describe the way Jackson Pollock worked and what he was trying to say more accurately than the artist himself?

This one example demonstrates the immediate advantages of an e+ biography of Jackson Pollock. It  provides the reader with original source material not available in a p or e  version of the hypothetical biography. Further, the reader can choose how deep s/he wants to go and also controls the time when they wish access this material, i.e. right then,  later, or after they have read the text, for a more in depth view.


  1. Read the Guides MAF you will be pleased. French enhanced books on Leonardo and Michelangelo for iPad.

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