If someone were to suddenly hand you a paintbrush, and a palette, and guide you to an easel, would you be able to accurately portray your private world in a detailed way, specifically the place you place your head at night?
Capturing our bedroom from memory is trickier than it sounds. (What, indeed, is on our nightstand?) But art lovers, museum mavens, and those immersed in pop culture history could very likely describe Van Gogh's "Bedroom" in astoundingly complete fashion.
There's that red blanket, and a window, and blue walls. Some chairs, too, placed askew.
But you won't need to summon your memory to piece the iconic painting together: The masterpiece is calling upon Southern California for a short, and sure to be quite popular, stay.
The 1889 painting, which normally may be viewed at The Art Institute of Chicago, will be on loan to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena from Friday, Dec. 9 through Monday, March 6.
Emblematic of the artist's "elusive search for repose," the work, both melancholy and cozy in turn, is in the pantheon of widely known paintings that represent the notion of home.
And while this painting hails from Chicago, you're correct if you recall seeing "Bedroom" at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. The painter created three takes on "Bedroom" in all, and this is The Art Institute's version first Southern California visit.
Van Gogh, though, didn't paint this particular work while actually standing in his bedroom, but while in an asylum in Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, the place where he went to heal following his breakdown in the city of Arles.
It's a painting that has quietly connected with, then profoundly moved, millions over the years.
Viewers are touched by what they see as well as what it means, responding to the painting's deep hues, slightly discombobulating perspective, and homey subject matter while also staying aware of the history of the man who created it.
And, of course, where he was on his journey when he chose to again depict this small space. The Norton Simon describes it as "a meditation on friendship, hope, and crushing disappointment," reminding us that even a simple room, one without people or clutter or the usual visual cues that guide a viewer, can tell a many-layered story that packs a wallop of emotion.