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Art Institute to Show All of Van Gogh's 'Bedroom' Paintings

By David Matthews | January 22, 2016 2:21pm
"The Bedroom" by Vincent Van Gogh, 1889.
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The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.

DOWNTOWN — Vincent Van Gogh's paintings of the place where he made some of his most colorful works — and chopped off his earlobe — are headed to the Art Institute. 

For the first time, the museum at 111 S. Michigan Ave. will showcase all three of Van Gogh's paintings of his "Yellow House" bedroom in southern France. It's the first such exhibition in North America, and opens Feb. 14. 

"Van Gogh's Bedrooms" will include paintings, drawings, letters, and other possessions of the legendarily gifted and tortured artist while he was staying at his "Yellow House" in Arles, France. The exhibit will also include a reconstruction of his bedroom to give "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 Art Institute said. 

The centerpiece of the exhibit, however, will be Van Gogh's three depictions of his bedroom, which he first painted in 1888. He painted a second version in 1889 while staying in an asylum, and later a smaller third version as a gift to his mother and sister. 

A native Dutchman, Van Gogh moved to the house in 1888 in hopes of finding fellow artists and becoming less dependent on his younger brother who lived in Paris. It was in Arles where Van Gogh painted his famous "Sunflower" series and vibrant landscapes, but also where he famously fell into depression, cut off his left earlobe, and delivered it to a prostitute.

He later moved to a mental institution (where he painted "Starry Night") and then to an inn in northern France before shooting and killing himself in 1890. 

The exhibit will offer "a pioneering and in-depth study" of the bedroom paintings' "making and meaning to Van Gogh in his relentless quest for home," the Art Institute said.

The exhibit will run through May 10. 

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