Painting Mondays: Interior of a Restaurant

What does van Gogh’s beautiful painting of a restaurant have to do with a new eBook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture? This week, we find out.

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The children’s book, Vincent, Theo and the Fox, weaves an adventure story around Interior of a Restaurant and 29 other Vincent van Gogh paintings. Readers also want information about each painting in the book. Every Monday, I write about one of those paintings. Why this painting, this week? Hint: it’s related to what you get in a restaurant: fun and food. I’ll explain in a minute.

First, a few facts about the painting. Vincent van Gogh painted it in Paris during the summer of 1887. You can see the picture at the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands. Unlike his other restaurant pictures, which involve food, the scene in this painting takes place between meals and there is no food visible. Fine art promotor Mia Feigelson also makes an interesting observation: except for the hint given by the top hat on the hook at left of center, there is also no human presence. Van Gogh did not paint many restaurant scenes, but when he did they usually had food or people or both. For comparison, below are two of his other famous restaurant scenes (Interior of a Restaurant, Arles and Cafe Terrace at Night):

interior-of-a-restaurant-1887blog  cafe-terrace-place-du-forum-arles-18881blog

 

61cxd11m-fl-_sx423_bo1204203200_Also unlike his other restaurant paintings, today’s painting is dominated by dots. Van Gogh was experimenting with the artistic style known as pointillism. While the dots are prominent, in their book, Van Gogh’s Table: At the Auberge Ravoux, Alexandra Leaf and Fred Leeman make the point (pun intended) that van Gogh applied the dots selectively and only on the floor and walls. The concrete objects (chairs, lamps, tables, and even the top hat hanging high up) are executed with strokes, sometimes even with drawn outlines. (Their book is nice and even has 50 French recipes! Yummy.)

Ah, recipes, food, fun. That is why I wrote about this van Gogh painting this week. I was at the The National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference yesterday and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that they just published some eBooks on good nutrition febooks_graphicor preschool and kindergarten kids. Whether you are dining in a fine French restaurant or eating at your school cafeteria, good nutrition is important. The USDA eBooks are free, kids can read the words themselves or press a button for the book to read the words to them, there is an interactive “plan your meal” page, and a maze where children have to touch the right nutritional foods to make it through to the other side. Before turning to writing, I worked for many years in the child nutrition/hunger field and some of my former colleagues created these eBooks. I’m very happy to see that they are now available. Your kids may be happy to see them too. Did I say they were free?

– Ted Macaluso

Interior of a Restaurant is the third illustration in Vincent, Theo and the Fox. The fox is hungry. He wants to eat like humans do so he goes into the restaurant. Mistakenly thinking that people must eat the flowers on the tables, he jumps up. Chaos ensues, which readers like. If you haven’t yet seen the book, it is available on BarnesAndNoble.com and Amazon.com.

© 2016 by Ted Macaluso. May be freely reproduced provided that attribution and a link to tedmacaluso.com is given.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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