Tag Archives: vincent van gogh

Art Institute of Chicago to host ‘Van Gogh’s Bedrooms’

Vincent van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles is arguably the most famous chambre in the history of art. It also held special significance for the artist, who created three distinct paintings of this intimate space from 1888 to 1889. An exhibition opening in February at the Art Institute of Chicago brings together all three versions of The Bedroom for the first time in North America, offering a pioneering and in-depth study of their making and meaning to Van Gogh in his relentless quest for home.

Van Gogh painted his first Bedroom just after moving into his beloved “Yellow House” in Arles, France, in 1888. He was so enamored with the work, now in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, that after water damage threatened its stability, he became determined to preserve the composition by painting a second version while at an asylum in Saint-Rémy in 1889.

Identical in scale and yet distinct from the original, that second work is now one of the icons of the Art Institute’s permanent collection. Van Gogh created a smaller third version, now at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, as a gift for his mother and sister a few weeks after making the second. While the three paintings at first appear almost identical, when examined closely, each reveals distinct and unique details.

The Chicago exhibition is the first to truly delve into the history of the three paintings.

Beginning with Van Gogh’s early canvases of cottages and birds’ nests, the show explores the artist’s use of the motif of home—as haven, creative chamber, and physical reality — and follows the evolution of this theme throughout his career, beyond the Yellow House to the asylum at Saint-Rémy. The presentation concludes with Van Gogh’s final residence in Auvers-sur-Oise, where he once again painted a series of cottages — returning to the idea that first evoked in him a sense of home.

“Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” features approximately 36 works by the artist, including paintings, drawings and illustrated letters, as well as a selection of books and other ephemera known to have been in Van Gogh’s possession.

Enhancing the exploration of the artist’s works and his longing for a place of his own are several engaging interactive presentations.

A digitally enhanced reconstruction of his bedroom allows viewers the chance to experience his state of mind and the physical reality of the space that so inspired him, while other enriching digital components bring to light significant recent scientific research on the three Bedroom paintings.

The exhibit…

Feb. 14–May 10 in Regenstein Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago. On the Web…


UNL art students recreate Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Bedroom’

University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s Richards Hall houses a ceramics workshop, a fabrication space and the one-room Medici Gallery reserved for student work. The closest thing to a study lounge, however, is a couch in the hallway.

Haley Heesacker, 26, saw an opportunity to provide fellow fine arts students with a temporary study space, one that lends itself to learning about the classics.

Last week, she and fellow arts student Michael Johnson unveiled an exhibit that combines fine art and functionality into a potentially great study space—or Instagram post, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The two members of the Sits and Giggles collective created a 3-D rendition of “Bedroom in Arles,” the broad-lined, distinctly colored painting by Vincent Van Gogh of his own sleeping quarters.

Beginning in 1888, Van Gogh painted three similar versions of his sparsely furnished bedroom in oil on canvas.

Before their exhibit debuted, Johnson and Heesacker spent three nearly sleepless days in toil on campus. The two converted a checklist of EcoStore and Goodwill finds into a re-creation of the famed bedroom that, Van Gogh wrote, “ought to rest the brain, or rather the imagination.”

Heesacker said she wanted to create a series of sculptural environments that weren’t hands-off to visitors.

Getting too close to the “Bedroom in Arles” at the Art Institute of Chicago might get you Tasered. But sitting in the chairs painted the “yellow of fresh butter” — Van Gogh’s words again — gets you the adoration of Johnson and Heesacker.

“We wanted people to be able to go and interact with it,” said Johnson, 20.

The first day that “A Visit with Vincent” was up in the Medici, Heesacker said she saw a guy sitting on the tiny bed with his laptop open and papers scattered on the floor.

“I was ecstatic,” she said.

She considered asking him to put on the straw hat that hangs alongside Van Gogh’s denims in the painting’s background and on the Medici Gallery’s north wall, but settled for snapping a picture.

So have many others who have visited the 3-D bedroom. Since it was unveiled, the room has been the backdrop for many cellphone photos. There’s a hashtag for it on Instagram — (hash)SNGGogh. Many pictures have been taken by art students, but Heesacker’s favorites so far have been taken by total strangers. 

“I don’t even know who these people are, which is super cool,” Heesacker said. “They were like pretending to have a pillow fight.”

The Sits and Giggles crew ((at)sitsandgiggles on Instagram) have plans to build more 3-D rooms throughout the school year. They began with a Van Gogh because it was the most recognizable image they wanted to recreate, Heesacker said.

“We’ve got some kind of crazy ones we want to try out later in the year,” Johnson said.

For now, they’ll continue to see how others spend time in Van Gogh’s bedroom.

Exhibit to focus on ‘Van Gogh and Nature’

An exhibit featuring 50 paintings and drawings of nature by Vincent Van Gogh will open in western Massachusetts in June.

“Van Gogh and Nature” is the first exhibit devoted to the artist’s exploration of nature.

It will open at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown on June 14.

The exhibit will include iconic paintings such as “A Wheatfield, with Cypresses,” “The Olive Trees” and “The Sower.” Works included in the exhibit are on loan from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and other museums.

The Clark Art Institute is located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. It houses European and American paintings and sculpture, English silver and early photography.

Novel explores Van Gogh’s silent period

When Vincent van Gogh steps off the train in the coal-mining region of Belgium known as the Borinage, his artist’s eye is immediately captivated by his surroundings.

“The haze of coal smoke made it seem as if night were falling; the black was so thick, I felt I could take grasp of it with my hand and pull free a piece,” he recalls in a letter to his brother.

Van Gogh has not come to paint the region but to save souls. Before he was an artist, he was a minister, sent to bring comfort to the poor, hungry and desperate families who slaved in mines to warm the rest of Europe. His experiences destroyed his faith and led to the “Lust for Life” famously described in Irving Stone’s 1934 novel and later the Academy Award-winning film of the same name.

Novelist Nellie Hermann doesn’t replicate the work of Stone and other biographers in the new “The Season of Migration,” but attempts to add to our understanding of Van Gogh with an imagining of a 10-month “silent period” in which he broke off communication with his younger brother, Theo, to whom Van Gogh wrote hundreds of letters during his lifetime. Hermann describes the silence that lasted from August 1879 to June 1880 as one born of heartbreak and frustration as Van Gogh’s faith fails in the wake of a mining disaster and he comes to see his call to ministry as a mistake.

A poor student who had been let go from jobs selling art and teaching school, Van Gogh is already familiar with shame and defeat when he arrives in the Borinage. His dedication to service — nursing the sick, establishing a rudimentary school — wins him the miners’ respect.

But the madness that will plague him until his death is already evident, and villagers begin to distance themselves as he stops eating and bathing. His future as a minister is already in doubt before a mine explosion kills the woman he loves and spurs a full-scale breakdown.

By the time Van Gogh regains his sanity, he has abandoned the belief that the miners’ fate is God’s will and understands he is unfit for orthodox ministry.

Hermann’s writing is strongest in her descriptions of Van Gogh’s observations during his ramblings through the Borinage and, later, the French countryside. He trades sketches for food, but is still struggling to find himself as an artist, and it will be years more before he becomes the master we now know.

The novel leaves Van Gogh on the brink of destiny, waiting for what’s next. It is an unfinished, unfulfilling ending, concluding much like Van Gogh’s time in the Borinage.

On the Web…