You think you know Vincent van Gogh, bro? We go deep into the Vincent van Gogh stacks; his letters, his Neunen studio diagrams, alternate and credible versions of how he lost part of an ear, his less discussed “Peasant Painter” period when he moved back in with his parents and his studio was adjacent to a cesspit. Mara reveals van Gogh’s buddy Paul Gauguin as the total creep he was — a helluva painter, but a terrible creep of a man. The painting at the center of our heist, ‘The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring’ triggers some flashbacks of scary paintings in Mara and Baker’s family homes. Our news is full of bad fakes of renowned artists, plus the story of a young couple who mistook an installation as an invitation to “interact” and leave some marks of their own. Awkward! Next, it’s onto the 2020 theft of Van Gogh’s ‘The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring’, a smash-and-grab job by some casually dressed guy with a sledgehammer. We tell you everything we know, including the most recent update direct from Arthur Brand (aka: the Indiana Jones of the art world!)
I’ve been thinking about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the museum scene.
The museum scene (filmed at the Art Institute of Chicago) is such a beautiful tribute to the power of museums. Three impressionable high school kids are happily immersed in the museum experience, they soak it in and become supremely moved by the art. They are downright reverent. George Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte almost moves Cameron to tears.
I was 13 when Ferris Bueller’s Day Off arrived in theaters. I was very tall for my age, late-blooming, and way too sensitive. I think you get the picture. That museum scene is less than 2 minutes long, but it transported me, it lit me up. I felt equal parts exhilarated and exposed by that scene.
“Oh my god, I am Cameron,” was my unspoken response. I had father issues, I was not mentally well, and I was an embarrassed 13 year old boy who could be brought to tears by looking at beautiful things, like art.
Cameron stares into George Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and goes deeper, deeper, and deeper into the painting. He sees himself reflected in the face of a child, and he looks haunted by the experience. Meanwhile, an orchestral cover of The Smiths, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want plays in the background. This scene is an emotional overload.
In the Ferris Bueller DVD audio commentary John Hughes explains, “The closer he [Cameron] looks at the child, the less he sees, of course, with this style of painting. The more he looks at it, there’s nothing there. He fears that the more you look at him there isn’t anything to see. There’s nothing there. That’s him.”
Ouch. I am Cameron.
But here’s the other thing that stuck with me for all of these years. This 1 minute and 54 seconds scene was my introduction to some of history’s greatest works of art. I was just some kid at a movie theater in the suburbs of Massachusetts until I was suddenly transported into the Art Institute of Chicago with Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron. Several shots in this museum montage are about 1:1 scale, director John Hughes drops us into the gallery and introduces us to vivid footage of Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Jackson Pollock, Georges Seurat, and so on.
“This is a very indulgent scene of mine, this was the Chicago Art Institute, which when I was in high school–was a place of refuge for me. I went there quite a bit. I loved it. I knew all the paintings, I knew the building, and this was a chance for me to go back into this building and show the paintings that were my favorite,” said Hughes.
In the process, he initiated a generation of new art lovers. What a wonderful contribution and footnote to the John Hughes legacy.
Below: links to (almost) all of the art shown in the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off museum scene, in order of appearance…