Curating Bedrooms: A Closer Look At Intimate Spaces in Art (PART 1)

Feb 5, 2013 3:46AM

A bedroom is like an oyster—though sealed off to the public by its shell, when opened, a bedroom can reveal the pearls of its inhabitants. I co-founded The Do Not Enter Diaries, a site that seeks to tell these very stories of teens through their bedrooms. What we’ve found through filming is that the teenage bedroom transcends all social barriers.  Throughout our project, I have a developed a new lens with which I view interior spaces. I no longer see bedrooms as settings, but characters themselves.  Thus, I was particularly interested how the depictions of bedrooms throughout art history have helped us (or can help us) better understand the piece’s subjects. Why is it that Vincent Van Gogh’s "Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles” is one of his most famous paintings to date? I believe, because the piece invites you into the mindset of Van Gogh—an intimate access behind his closed doors.  You are forced to enter his world, engage with his belongings, and wonder how such a room could hold such sadness. Yet, in its more recent interpretation by Roy Lichtenstein, “Bedroom at Arles” (1992), Van Gogh’s bedroom becomes something to objectify and commodify---Using Ben-Day Dots and updates in color and furniture, Lichtenstein’s version  changes the somber tone of the room to a Modernist studio room, fit for Lichtenstein himself. 

Van Gogh and Lichtenstein's version of the bedroom not only tell the viewer about the stylistic preferences of these iconic artists, but also demonstrate how they interacted with these spaces on a deeper level than just strategic paint strokes. 

By Emma Orlow- Co-Founder, Interviewer, Website Director at The Do Not Enter Diaries

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