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Vincent Van Gogh

Exhibition Review: Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles
Tuesday, May 28th marks the last day of the Vincent Van Gogh’s exhibition, Van Gogh’s Bedroom

in Arles, which has been displayed at the Guest of Honor in the Dutch Golden Era Exhibit at the
Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit.

The exhibition sets multiple

the European Galleries at the eye to the direct encounter of DIA, this exhibition the painting Bedroom in Arles themes of the Creating experiences that help each visitor find personal The DIAconsisting Mission Statement: meaning in art. specifically focuses on and itself, with Portrait of relation of the color blue to a around Van Gogh’s painting of Postman Roulin and The particular mood through his bedroom in Arles as well Diggers on either side of the Vincent Van Gogh’s pieces, as the reasoning behind the center piece. The viewers’ the Dutch Golden Era of color choice and technique gaze then reaches to the far painting and a combination of used. Van Gogh’s Bedroom in left of the room, ending at one the historic importance of the Arles is a loan from the Museé of his most famous ‘Selfartist, era and pieces d’Orsay in Paris and has been Portrait’ pieces completed in presented. on display in the Dutch 1887 along with another galleries on the third floor of description panel and wall Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles th the museum. May 28 has text describing the exhibition, Exhibition marked the last day of this outlining him as Guest of exhibition. Honor and describing Van Gogh’s painting techniques The entrance to the exhibition and style. was located on the third level of the DIA, to the right of the Bedroom in Arles 1889, atrium and elevator as you oil on canvas. enter the Dutch Golden Age section of the museum. All remaining sections other than the Van Gogh exhibition have been closed off due to either Four of Vincent Van Gogh’s reconstruction or to most famous works specifically isolate the Guest completed in the last few of Honor. The entrance to the years of his life, encompass exhibit guides the viewer to the Detroit Institute of Art’s begin the tour from the newest exhibit, Van Gogh’s center-right, confronting the Bedroom in Arles as Guest of viewer with a descriptive Honor. Curated by Salvadore learning panel of the main Salort-Pons, the Curator of work presented, leading the

Reverting back to Bedroom in Arles, Van Gogh was about 35 years old when he moved to Arles in Southern France. The welcoming learning panel explains that the painting is a remake of an original made in 1888 for Van Gogh’s sister and mother, which had been damaged in a flood. The panel also demonstrates comparisons of the original work to his re-creation, giving detail as to why Van Gogh chose particular colors, shapes and objects to create this piece. Using some of Van Gogh’s own quotes, “Looking at this painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination… The color has to do the job to be suggestive of rest or of sleep… The solidity of the furniture should also now express unshakable repose” – the text relates specifically to Van Gogh’s use of the color blue to a sense of calm and relaxation of mood. The description tells you that the black outline of each object in the room emphasizing sturdiness. To force the viewer to only focus on the color, the room and the objects themselves, Van Gogh removed all shadows to simplify the image - with the floor appearing tilted to create a feeling of rest from the flatness of the image. This particular exhibition is devoted to Van Gogh’s color use to invoke a certain calmness and “restful mood” from his audience. Visitors

are invited to broaden their minds on the logic behind Van Gogh’s work and to understand the reason for his use of color to invoke emotion as well as the use of his thick paint and brushstrokes. Van Gogh alters the viewer’s perspective of his compositions and uses distorted objects. The Diggers 1889, oil on paper.

image. The diggers themselves are in blue, relating back to Van Gogh’s connection of color and temper, expressing the restful and calm mood in un-restful activity – nature symbolizing peace – possibly represented by the addition of the 5 trees. Millet's background had a great influence on the subject matter of his paintings. Millet even stated once: "I was born as a peasant and shall die as a peasant", yet he did learn to appreciate a more comfortable life in time. Millet is known for his works revolving around tribute to farmers and field workers, feeling a compassion for those who toiled the dirt with their own two hands. Van Gogh always identified with the peasant class, as did Millet – both of them feeling a connection with farmers and workers of the land. Portrait of Postman Roulin 1888, oil on canvas.

One such work using the same techniques is The Diggers 1889, completed as a reinterpretation of a JeanFrancois Millet painting. Jean Francois Millet was one of Van Gogh’s favorite artists, and Van Gogh referred to some of his works after other artists as “translating”. Consisting of less detail and more texture, the re-imagined work of The Diggers includes 5 trees, with the use of thick paint to represent the dirt pile on the lower left of the

Using a single flat background color of blue for this piece, Van Gogh states: “Instead of painting the ordinary wall, I paint infinity.” Postman Roulin sits within an ‘infinity’ of blue, hinting towards the mood of Van Gogh’s subject once again. The wall text explains “…his colors are no longer based on objective reality… they are vehicles to suggest emotion and what he calls mysterious effects.” Roulin was a friend of Van Gogh’s as well as his model. The portrait of Roulin is part of a series of The Roulin Family paintings done in Arles in 1888 -1889. Van Gogh enjoyed painting portraits of people, and there were very few opportunities for him to arrange for models for his work. The Roulin family provided Van Gogh with multiple modeling opportunities, for which he made several images of each person, and in exchange, Van Gogh gave each family member of the Roulin’s one painting.

Self-Portrait 1887, oil on board.

There is no mistake why all of these pieces were chosen to be together. The color blue is a re-appearing theme in all of them for this particular Guest of Honor exhibition. Almost all subjects presented in his works are of the working class-- with all figures remaining dressed in blue within an empty space, relating to a sense of calmness given by this particular color.

In his Self Portrait done in 1887, Van Gogh himself is dressed in blue, possibly to invoke and relay his inner serenity at that moment in time. Most of Van Gogh’s works consisted of the heavy use of oil paint on either canvas or wood panel, creating a deep texture of color and contrast.

By: Kyra Kalageorgi
Thursday, May 30
Student at Michigan State University. kyrakalageorgi.com