In his April 2021 New York Times article “The Woman Who Made van Gogh,” Russell Shorto presents a revisionist narrative of the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh—namely, that his biography, correspondences, and personal recollections do matter to his unique formulation of modernism. Shorto further explains that, in the late 19th century, French art critics were wary to discuss an artist's background, let alone van Gogh's “wild” paintings, given that they believed an artwork should be judged on academic and artistic merit alone. As such, Shorto asks a pertinent question: How did van Gogh, who was not critically recognized at all during his lifetime, “become” the celebrated postimpressionist he is today? The answer is both surprising and refreshing, for it is thanks to the tireless efforts of Jo van Gogh-Bonger, his oft-forgotten sister-in-law, who succeeded as a widowed, untrained dealer in Paris's male-dominated art world at the turn of the century....

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