Van gogh's bedroom


Van Gogh. The Bedroom, Oct. 16-17, 1888. Amsterdam Museum. Picture courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago.


Van Gogh. The Bedroom, Sept. 5, 1889. The Art Institute of Chicago. Picture courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago.



Van Gogh. The Bedroom, Sept. 28, 1889. The Musee d' Orsay, Paris. Picture courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago.

The exhibition Van Gogh's Bedroom, is now open at The Art Institute of Chicago through May 10. 2016. A must see for Van Gogh lovers of his three bedroom paintings. I have been lucky to see these three exceptional paintings singularly in the museums they permanently reside. However, to see all three paintings together in the same room, well.... not sure I have the worlds to express my feelings of excitement.

I have a long history with Van Gogh's second bedroom painting, which started during my first figure painting class. I would often leave the classroom at SAIC and walk through the attached buildings to the museum (The Art Institute of Chicago). I would wander around looking for inspiration, instruction, and insight and I would somehow always end my journey sitting in front of Van Gogh's bedroom painting. At the time, this particular painting hung in a room with Georges Serurat's famous painting,  A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and so there was a lovely bench to sit and spend time with Van Gogh's bedroom. I always gravitated towards the colors, textures, and movement of this painting back then. Now, when I go back and visit The Art Institute of Chicago, I find myself still drawn to the Van Gogh's bedroom painting. Though, the painting now hangs in a different room without a bench, I stand and I linger, still enjoying the colors, textures, and movement I originally enjoyed. Presently, I also see the intimacy, the expression, the stillness only years and age can teach you to see and appreciate. I can now feel Van Gogh's bedroom around me with all my senses at full alert, and a new appreciation for Van Gogh's longing for a home of his own sticks deeply with my own 35 year old heart.

A quick note of history helped me reflect on all three paintings side by side. The second bedroom painting was the first to be painted while he was in the asylum and like the third painting, copied from the first. Which brings me to the conclusion that the order in which these paintings were created played a huge part in the outcome of the finished the  finished paintings themselves. The second bedroom painting was the first to be copied form the original, allowing the most surprises out of the three and the most emotions as well. Example, the beautiful light green blue on the hard wood floor that sets off a sense of melancholy found in the yellow orange of the bed, tables, and chairs. Also, out of the three bedroom paintings the second, has an eerie surprise of calm about the work, I found this due to the lack of exaggeration of perspective. The other two paintings seemed to have all their i's dotted and t's crossed, perhaps more easily accomplished by Van Gogh because of the order. In the first painting I find there is a sense of searching the new subject out, painting what is in front of him. The second painting emotions seem to rule the roost, with the longing to be back in front of the original image; back in the comfort of his home. Finally, the third painting a sense of completion; this is how it looks. This is why I love the second painting so much, because it allows for a greater discovery. Emotions, lead you to surprises thought out the painting. The second bedroom painting expresses Van Gogh's love for his bedroom, the longing for a place of his own, and the peace of having his dream for a minute or two, was expressed to perfection in this work.

Van Gogh was a prolific painter with a short career. His three bedroom paintings are some of the finest works in his career. They tell a story of a man's longing for a home of his own. Who can't relate to that? I can!