Art Institute's Van Gogh Gala: Sunflowers and a bedroom in Arles

The Old Masters Society hosted an opening night gala to celebrate the Art Institute of Chicago’s latest exhibition, Van Gogh’s Bedrooms. Curated by Gloria Groom (Chairman of the Dept. of European Paintings & Sculpture), the exhibition is the first ever dedicated to Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom paintings, considered the most famous bedroom depicted in art. It features three oil-on-canvas paintings of Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles” along with 36 paintings, drawings and letters illustrated by the artist.

The festive, black-tie evening began with cocktails on the Grand Staircase in Griffin Hall, followed by an exclusive viewing of the exhibition and a Van Gogh-inspired dinner in Griffin Court. The decor perfectly echoed the event’s them. Planned by Laurie Bay in collaboration with John Hensel of HMR Designs, the decor featured a projection of Van Gogh’s Starry Night that covered the entire west wall of Griffin Court, while his Night Cafe was projected on the east wall. Six large Cyprus trees were planted in the Court and tables held pottery pitchers filled with bunches of sunflowers. Guests posed against a backdrop of the famous bedroom, taking home photos in addition to lavish Sotheby’s goodie bags that included the exhibition catalogue written by Groom.

Some partygoers got into the spirit of the Van Gogh-inspired event too like Axel Ruger, Director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, who wore a sunflower-patterned dinner jacket. Diana Senior wore a sunflower corsage while husband Richard sported a matching boutonniere.

Two of the artist’s relatives, Willem van Gogh, his great grand nephew, and Machteld van Laer, his great grand niece, flew in from Amsterdam for the party. They served as honorary chairs along with Vincent Floreani, Consul General of France in Chicago, and Klaas van der Tempel, Consul General of the Netherlands in Chicago.

Following dinner, Groom, toasted Douglas Druick, retiring Art Institute President/Director and his successor James Rondeau.

The exhibition will run through May 10 and, besides the paintings, will include an exact reproduction of the bedroom, some of the artist’s paints and brushes and examples of his collected ephemera including birds’ nests.

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