Artwork Module Navigation
Questions for Philisophical Discussion
- What features of this painting make it different from a photograph that might have been taken of this room?
- Does the fact that it was the room Van Gogh lived in change your understanding of it?
- What distortions do you notice in the painting?
- Why do you think Van Gogh chose to distort his room in such a way?
- Name some emotions this painting invokes.
- Do emotions have a specific feeling associated with them? Are they identical with those feelings?
- Where do you experience emotions, in your body or your mind? Do your associate specific emotions with different parts of your body?
- When you experience an emotion, is it “directed” at a particular person or thing? Give an example of an emotion and how it relates to something outside of you. Are there, on the other hand, some emotions that are not so directed to something external to you? Give an example. [Hint: Consider happiness. Can you just be happy or do you have to be happy about something? If the latter, then happiness has what philosophers call “an object,” whatever you are happy about. What about anxiety, an emotion that many philosophers think is especially significant?]
- Is there a difference between an emotion and a mood? How would you describe that difference, if any?
- Can you tell what emotions another person is experiencing? How do you know?
- How important are emotions in your life? How important do you think they should be?
More information on The Bedroom from the Van Gogh Museum
Expressionism Overview and Resources
Expressionist art focuses on the expression of emotions rather than the accurate depiction of objects or people. Artists use color and visual distortions as a means of communicating emotional states.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on emotion
Philosophy Talk episode on “indispensable emotions”
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