Why do works by Vincent van Gogh look the way they do? Scholars have supplied all sorts of explanations, ranging from mental illness to lead poisoning, though one thing is for sure: his paintings look like something other than conventional everyday life. With a van Gogh blockbuster on view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, we turn back to the April 1–14, 1942 issue of ARTnews, in which John Rewald kicked off a series that drew comparisons between famed paintings and photographs he’d taken of real-world locations that often looked little like artists’ painterly representations. “The views that van Gogh chose often amazed me by their banality, by their total lack of any emotional quality—that quality he makes so urgent in all of his works,” Rewald wrote at the time. The article follows in full below. —Alex Greenberger
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