Vincent van Gogh’s “The Bedroom”

30 Oct

Vincent van Gogh’s “The Bedroom,” produced in 1889, is an oil painting on canvas. It is said to depict the Yellow House in the south of France. The Yellow House was known, to Vincent van Gogh, as the “studio of the south” where like-minded artists would congregate, although the idea never really came to fruition. Van Gogh painted this piece for his friend and fellow artist, Paul Gauguin, whom he wished to be a part of the “studio of the south.”

The first things that drew my eye to the painting were the use of vivid color and line. Every object in the room is clearly and boldly outlined and then filled with almost child-like color. This technique struck me as different from the artist’s other works. If you were to compare “The Bedroom” to “Starry Night,” for example, you can see drastic differences. “The Bedroom” seems more manic, static, and elementary, while “Starry Night” is serene and has a sense of flow and movement. The bright use of color is seen in both paintings, but they seem to be completely different.

Van Gogh said of “The Bedroom:” ‘looking at the picture ought to rest the brain, or rather the imagination.’ This seems to contradict the painting itself. The use of color itself invigorates the brain, as does the somewhat confusing composition. There is nothing restful, in my opinion, about the painting. I do not believe that “The Bedroom” rests the imagination, either. It is a very active painting which engages the imagination. It leads the viewer to wonder why this painting in particular is so different than van Gogh’s other paintings.

“The Bedroom” uses one- and two-point perspective, although a bit loosely. It appears to have multiple vanishing points and some objects within the room seem disproportionate in relation to others. Although apparently disproportionate, the objects interact well and in a believable manner.

The rich brush strokes used by van Gogh in “The Bedroom” are very stylistically impressionist. They are very rough and textural and lend a sense of movement to the painting, which displays very stationary objects.

I found it interesting the within the composition, there are painted pictures which hang on the wall. I looked around the gallery, and found many similarities between his “real” paintings and those which appear in “The Bedroom.” Some of these appear to be his self-portrait, from 1887, and “The Poet’s Garden” from 1888. I do not know if this was intentional or not, but it seems to be a reflection of his past works of art. It made me wonder if this painting marked the beginnings of Vincent van Gogh’s descent into madness. Often an artist will reflect upon his past accomplishments and make comparisons between “the then” and “the now.” He might have felt like a failure. He might have been disappointed with himself. Judging from the fact that his “studio of the south” failed completely, this could very well be the case.

Over the years I have become familiar with the works of Vincent van Gogh. Upon first seeing “The Bedroom,” I wondered why it was so different than his other paintings. It seemed to be almost a regression in style and technique. Upon reading the curatorial notes, I found out that “The Bedroom” was painted around the time of van Gogh’s self-mutilation (cutting off a portion of his earlobe). Meer months after the completion of the painting, Vincent van Gogh was checked into an insane asylum and ultimately died a few months later.

I do not believe that “The Bedroom” was one of Vincent van Gogh’s best works. However, it does have a quality which makes the viewer wonder about the painting’s intentional, as well as those of the painter. It invokes a reaction and questioning which I believe is vital to the successful making and viewing of art. “The Bedroom” seems to be a marker of time in the life of van Gogh. It is very indicative of the end of his career and well as the apparent end of his sanity. I believe that the painting is successful in that it brings about discussion, which is really one of the main purposes of art.


One Response to “Vincent van Gogh’s “The Bedroom””

  1. mondaymorningkings October 31, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    Reply from Sara Harris
    I have always liked vincent van gogh’s painting of the bedroom. It has always been so interesting to me. I like the aspect of comparing this painting to others done before and how his asthetic could have changed. It was very true when looking at one painting and looking at the others in the room and how much power stood out from this one in particular.

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