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A chair is a chair is a chair, right? Well, not to Van Gogh. Shortly after painting his first Bedroom, the artist made two paintings just of chairs—one was his chair and the other was his housemate Paul Gauguin's. For Gauguin he had selected an elegant walnut chair, but for himself only a simple pine chair. These differences reflect Van Gogh's understanding of each artist's personality as well as his intentions of their roles within the Studio of the South—Gauguin was to be the leader, Van Gogh the student.
In the three Bedrooms, the different treatments of the chairs are not inconsequential. For each version, Van Gogh used at least two distinct shades of yellow for the frames of the chairs, and he painted outlines to reinforce their structures. The first version is painted in mostly flat tints except for the back of the chair, which the artist first painted with a light-green layer and contrasting bright-blue outlines.
In contrast, the second and third versions are depicted with more textural brushwork. Especially when you look at their seats, you can see the impasto, or thick application of paint, in contrasting colors—reflecting the more expressive style Van Gogh developed in Saint-Rémy.
Lead support has been provided by the Estate of Jacquet McConville.
Major support has been generously provided by Caryn and King Harris, The Harris Family Foundation; the Gilchrist Foundation; The Morris and Dolores Kohl Kaplan Fund; and Evonne and John Yonover.
Additional funding has been contributed by Constance and David Coolidge, the Mason Foundation, Charlene and Mark Novak, and the Comer Family Foundation.
Annual support for Art Institute exhibitions is provided by the Exhibitions Trust: Kenneth Griffin, Robert M. and Diane v.S. Levy, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, Betsy Bergman Rosenfield and Andrew M. Rosenfield, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, and the Woman’s Board.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.