For my report I decided to walk through the Yale Art Gallery. While looking through the museum I stumbled upon a painting that really caught my eye like no other painting did. This specific oil painting was called “Le Café de nuit” which is French for “The Night Café” made by Vincent Van Gogh in 1888. Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch artist whose work was notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color. The movement that Van Gogh made this painting during the Post Impressionism Movement. Vincent Van Gogh is a unique and outstanding artist who had a dramatic life that affected his paintings. At the age of twenty-seven, Van Gogh decided to devote his life for art because he believed in the power of art.
In the Yale Art Gallery this oil painting was in the American room with some other American crafts. What immediately caught my eye on this painting was the detail and the creativity Van Gogh used and also the colors, they seemed to be dark and gloomy which I like to see in art. Van Gogh is one of the most well-known expressionist artists that people think of today. This oil painting on a canvas has been called one of Van Gogh’s masterpieces and one of his most famous paintings ever. This 28.5″ x 36.3″ painting depicts the inside of the cafe, with a half-curtained doorway in the center background. Five customers sit at tables along the walls to the left and right, and a waiter in a light coat, to one side of a billiard table near the center of the room, stands facing the viewer of the painting. Personally, I like to play pool so this painting stuck out to me even more when I had seen it. Van Gogh went to a café called “The café de Alcazar” where he ate his meals very often. I believe this café that he went to inspired him to paint “Le café de nuit”.
The colors in this piece are not just Van Gogh’s favorite colors, they also represent a much bigger picture. He uses for example, the color red on the walls which symbolizes blood and darkness. The red and green of the walls and ceiling are an “oppressive combination”, and the lamps are “sinister features” with orange-and-green halos, according to Nathaniel Harris. “I find the colors in this painting to be very intense and dark which means to me that Van Gogh was trying to display rough times or disturbed times. Everywhere there is a clash and contrast of the most disparate reds and greens. The clashing colors were also meant to express the “terrible passions of humanity” found in this all night haunt, populated by vagrants and prostitutes. Van Gogh also felt that colors took on intriguing quality at night, especially by gaslight in this painting. Van Gogh wanted to show how “the white clothing of the café owner, keeping watch in a corner of this furnace, becomes lemon yellow, pale and luminous green.
“The Night Café” does not seem like the painting that would give much joy to any single individual. What this painting depicts to me is a sign of loneliness and depression. In the background there is a clock on the wall which clearly shows that it is late and probably time to go home. When I see these types of places and I am in these places in real life they are fun and very loud you can barely hear your friend talking to you. In this painting you can clearly see that the people slouched over completely drunk did not go to the café to have fun and to enjoy themselves. It is clear that these men with their heads down on the table have been going through some rough times and they do not want to leave the café because maybe there is no real place for them to go. Some of these men who are sitting in this cafe may even be homeless. Van Gogh used the glimmering lights to show that even in the dreariest places there is still hope.
Vincent Van Gogh lived a lonely, isolated life and grew up in a very poor family. He struggled with a mental illness, and remained poor and unknown throughout his life. With all of the struggles he faced in his life who is to say that he himself is not one of those drunk guys with their head on the table all alone? Maybe Van Gogh found himself in the same situation as all of these other men.
Another thing that got my attention when looking at this painting was the pool table. When you are in a café or any place there is a pool table there is usually a line of people waiting to play but in this painting there is absolutely no interest in the table. Personally I like to play pool and whenever I go to a place that there is a table I take advantage of it and play as much as I can.
Vincent Van Gogh was an artistic genius who changed the way we perceived typically warm hues. Colors such as yellow and red are now giving off a darker tone in the painting when usually they are used to lighten the mood. Van Gogh was a major figure in the Post Impressionism Movement who used his real life experiences as a foundation to his art. This is seen specifically in “Le café de nuit” because he would regularly go to a café similar to this oil painting. This painting represents loneliness and depression by the use of dark and contrasting colors.
The lighting in the café shows that there is still light in dark places and you can always turn your life around. It can give hope to the people in most need, such as the drunken men with their heads down in the painting. I also interpreted the lights as halos hanging over the men in the café to show that there is always someone watching over even in the darkest places. Vincent Van Gogh displayed a strong depressed emotion with a hint of lightness with the use of contrasting colors and bold tones.