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ZOOM Starry Night

This product is included in A Love of Art

The Voyager Company

Reference/Art

Ratings:

3 1/2 stars from CD-ROM Today.

4 stars from PC Entertainment.

By Albert Boime

Van Gogh's dramatic picture of the swirling night sky over Saint-Remy is familiar to lovers of postimpressionism everywhere. But when art history professor Albert Boime determined that the painting almost exactly represented the predawn sky of June 19, 1889, he realized there was much more to Starry Night than meets the eye. What he discovered was a fascinating convergence of historical forces. From the observatory atop the newly built Eiffel Tower, visitors could look down on the 1889 World's Fair, where the Third Republic was showcasing its far-flung colonies as well as the latest technological wonders. Jules Verne was taking readers to the moon, the ocean floor, and around the world in eighty days. Astronomy and astrolgy had seized the imagination of the public. Boime theorizes that Van Gogh, far from being an isolated lunatic (his brother and his friend Gauguin kept him posted), was in fact responding to these tumultuous times with Starry Night.

Almost two hours of audio and over 250 images link the central lecture to supplementary material: Van Gogh's correspondence, close-ups of Starry Night, entertaining contemporary illustrations and photographs, a delightful, illustrated essay on stellar phenomena in the work of painters from Giotto to Munch, and more. Immensely learned and completely engaging, this CD-ROM is art history at its most inspired.

Requirements: Windows - 486SX-33 or higher processor; 640x480, 256-color display (accelerator recommended); 8 Mbytes RAM; MPC2-compatible CD-ROM drive and sound card with speakers or headphones; Microsoft Windows 3.1.

Requirements: Macintosh - Any color Macintosh (25-MHz 68030 or better recommended); System 7; 13" (640x480 resolution) or larger display; at least 8 Mbytes RAM (5,000K free); double-speed CD-ROM drive.

Reviews:

CD-ROM Today, March 1996

"The popular image of Vincent Van Gogh is that of a tortured genius, an ear-hacking wacko who almost helplessly painted masterpiece after masterpiece as he spiraled toward madness. In this scholarly disc, Albert Boime, an art historian at the University of California at Los Angeles, makes a persuasive counter argument. He contends that Van Gogh's work, far from being the product of schizophenia, manic-depression, or some other psychopathology, is the expression of an orderly mind with an affinity for scientific imagery."

"The material is inspired, but the multimedia is not - in form, it's not much more than a grad-school art lecture with a slide show and background music."

"A healthy selection of Van Gogh's letters and 250 images bolster this scholarly account. And the painting has never looked better; a scrollable, magnified view lets you examine every sweeping brushstroke. You may have seen Starry Night before, but after this, you'll never look at it the same way."

PC Entertainment, April 1996

"This unique Voyager disc investigates Van Gogh's - and 19th century society's - interest in astonomy, and how it's reflected in his work. Along with a thorough study of the famous painting, you'll find some 250 other reproductions of the artist's work, plus his letters to his brother. Starry Night feels a little like attending a lecture, but it's well worth paying attention."



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