The artist Vincent Van Gogh, who led a relatively nomadic existence between the Netherlands, France, and England, found the idea of home to be a very appealing one. In 1888 he created one of his most famous masterpieces, “The Bedroom,” to represent the sanctuary in his beloved Yellow House in Arles, France.

vangoghLess than a year later, he painted a second version while literally in a difference place – an asylum at Saint-Remy in 1889, after the departure of Paul Gauguin. Van Gogh had had high hopes for Gauguin’s residency with him, but those hopes were dashed when Gauguin left after just nine weeks. A third version was painted for his mother and sisters several weeks later.

All three versions of “The Bedroom” are similar, but also very distinct, revealing Van Gogh’s evolving state of mind as well as his development as an artist. The Art Institute’s exhibit, which runs through May 10, is a truly enlightening look at how Van Gogh came to feel the way he did about the idea of home, through paintings, drawings, letters, and books. It even features a life-size digital recreation of what the bedroom in question looked like in real life.

The exhibition looks at Van Gogh’s history in a very focused way, but fans of art and of Van Gogh’s work in particular will love the intimacy and the ideas represented here. He was a fascinating man, and his works have such vibrancy. Being able to compare the three pieces is an opportunity not to be missed.

“Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” is really popular right now, so we suggest going during weekday mornings if you can. Entry to the exhibit is $5 on top of regular museum admission (ages 14 and under are free, as are members). Also, the exhibit is not free on Thursday evenings for Illinois residents, even though general admission is (as always) free from 5-8 p.m. It’ll cost you $15 to get in on those nights. For more information, visit the Art Institute’s website.

Also, the Art Institute has made it possible for guests to stay overnight in a facsimile of his Arles bedroom. Interested?

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