Vincent Van Gogh only inhabited this earth for 37 years, and in that time, he lived in 37 different places. That could be why, when he got to Arles and finally signed a lease on a little house of his own, the theme of home emerged so gloriously in his work. Of course, he had represented places where he’d lived before then. But after arranging his house in Arles, he painted his bedroom not once, but three different times. You may think you’ve seen his famous bedroom painting if you’ve been to Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Another person might claim he saw it in the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, while a third would insist she’s seen it at the Art Institute of Chicago.
They would all be right. However, right now all three versions are being exhibited—side by side—at the Art Institute through May 10, 2016. This is the first time all three have been exhibited together in North America. This show has been ten years in the making
Van Gogh tried many lines of work, only realizing he was an artist the last 10 years of his life. In that 10 year span, he painted 900 canvases.
There’s so much to love about this exhibit. Many pieces by Van Gogh, Milliet, and others put the piece in context. There’s a re-creation of his bedroom that you can walk up to, though not into.
The biggest surprise for me was in the last room, just before you get to the gift shop. Plan to spend a little time in the Night Café, which is set up to suggest a café in Arles where Van Gogh sometimes hung out. It doesn’t function at all like an actual café, but it does play a wonderful video loop which shows the many, many ways Van Gogh was celebrated in other media, especially film, television, by other artists, and in comics. And yes, the Doctor Who episode (the one that always makes me weep like a tiny little girl) was represented.