National Geographic : 1997 Oct
MUSEED'ORSAY.PARIS VAN GOGH'S BEDROOM IN ARLES, SEPTEMBER 1889 ARLES Lit by a vigorous sun, a sheet casts a long shadow on a building in Aries (left), an ancient town in the south of France where van Gogh journeyed to seek luminous colors like the ones in Japaneseprints. Walking the streets andfields, van Gogh captured "the land of the blue tones and gay colors" in a series of paintingsconsidered among his best. Here van Gogh created "a new art," writes criticMeyer Scha piro, by replacingtraditionallight and shadow with bounded areas ofpure color-in hues drawn as much from the artist's mind asfrom nature.After working at a pace that left him "halfdead," van Gogh with drew to render his bedroom (shown above in a copy he made) in tones suggesting sleep. "Looking at the picture ought to rest the brain, or ratherthe imagina tion," he wrote. Alone in Arles van Gogh hoped to found an artists' community, but two months with painterPaul Gauguin ended in quarrelsand the first attack of mental illness, when van Gogh cut off part of his ear and gave it to a prostitute.