No doubt one of the best CD-ROMs ever made about an artist's life, Vincent van Gogh: Straight from the Heart is a true labor of love by Christopher Engel, himself an artist, who spent over three years making this exceptional piece of multimedia. While most CD-ROMs about artists are valuable as a comprehensive database of high-resolution images, Straight from the Heart goes one step further by emphasizing on Vincent's working processes, his philosophical point of view, as well as the process of becoming an artist.
Central to the CD-ROM is the complete transcribed letters from Vincent to his brother, Theo, all of which are read aloud to form a continuous narrative over four hours long. In contrast to other CD-ROMs about van Gogh or other artists, there is no third-party commentary in Straight from the Heart: instead, it is as if the spoken letters address you as Theo. It is up to you alone to interpret Vincent's words, without relying on authorities. Throughout the letters, you will be able to avail yourself of cross-references in ways only possible in a CD-ROM, such as glancing at paintings made references to. The extent of care and attention to detail spent on this disc is evident in the fact that if the actual works aren't identifiable, works that are stylistically similar are used to illustrate the text – a superb feature.
One of the other highlights is the many interactive segments that are designed to enhance your understanding of Vincent's working methods and artistic philosophy. Similar to the excellent mini-games in Paul C้zanne: Portrait of My World, Vincent's ideas about style, color, perspective and composition are among the aspects of his work that are highlighted in these segments. The CD also contains all the features commonly found in reference CDs, including comprehensive biography and bibliography sections.
Overall, Straight from the Heart is a definite must-have for fans of the artist, as well as anyone who is interested in art. The superb spoken letters and focus on the artist's techniques and philosophy make this THE best multimedia title ever made about one of the world's most famous artists. Two thumbs up, way up!Reviewed by: Underdogs