Painting: Vincent Van Gogh, Bedroom in Arles
Van Gogh and The Representation of Happiness Through His Own Bedroom
Vincent Van Gogh, Bedroom in Arles, 1889, Oil on canvas, currently at the De Young Museum (San Francisco),
“Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay”Exhibition.
On a smaller canvas than two other similar paintings, Vincent Van Gogh carefully painted for the third time his bedroom in Arles, a charming town in the south of France, and thus created this approximately 22 ½ x 29’’ artwork. In fact, Van Gogh made three almost identical paintings on the theme of his bedroom and are named « Bedroom in Arles ». The first one, kept at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is painted in October 1888. About a year after, Van
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This is reminiscent of a children’s coloring which would have been filled in with color pencils, because the edges of objects are bolder and their filling up seem almost slapdash, neglected. This elaborate post-impressionist design may be compared to such work as Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (book p.370). But whereas Van Gogh favored paintings composed of multiple thin brush strokes, Seurat preferred the use of the pointillism system, which consisted of “applying color to the canvas in tiny dots.3” In this painting of Seurat, the color also focuses on hues. There are numerous colors too, their contrast is intense, and the sun shine, like in the Van Gogh’s bedroom, fills the picture, suggesting happiness and tranquility. Like Van Gogh, Seurat played with repetitive forms (the parasols, people in profile, trees, and boats). People in this piece are rigid. In fact, they do not seem to move, but on the contrary, seem to be strangely paralyzed, paralleling the furniture of Van Gogh’s bedroom. Strangely, Van Gogh’s furniture seems to be even more “alive” than the people in the Seurat’s painting. The two painters did not have the same approach when they decided which colors they wanted to illuminate their canvases; while Van Gogh was guided by his emotions and instant feelings, Seurat carefully analyzed the colors and “meticulously calculated values.3” But in both pieces, Van Gogh and Seurat express their sense of organization by making objects, forms,