The Night Café By Vincent Van Gogh: A Critical Analysis Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Vincent Van Gogh, Painting, Art, Night, Artists, People, Color, Life

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2021/03/28

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The Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh created numerous masterpieces of art including self-portraits and sketches showing the daily life of the common people. Although van Gogh was one of the artists of the Post Impressionism in Europe he did not really stick to portraying his subjects as beautifully as he could. The Night Café (Fr. Le Café Nuit) was painted in Arles, France in the year 1888. One particular correspondence about the painting was mentioned by van Gogh in his letter to his brother, Theo dated 6th of August 1888. According to the letter, “the night café was a place of sadness and solitude for “night prowlers” who do not have sufficient funds to pay for their lodgings or are too drunk to be taken in.” (qtd. in Van Gogh’s Letters). The painting style was influenced by the Japanese woodblock prints that van Gogh purchased whilst staying in Arles. He incorporated the techniques in using only single color tone to imitate the Japanese painting style and to make his painting as his own; he used the slapstick brush strokes for the halos surrounding the lamps. The focal point of his painting is to illustrate his description of the night cafes in Paris. The walls are red which contrasts the green ceiling; bright yellows dominated the entire scenery starting from the floor up to the lamps. Meanwhile, figures of drunken customers were seen seated on their chairs whilst slumped on their tables. The owner of the café clad in white apparel stood glaring out of the painting, as if he tries to explain the sorrow that filled the night cafes during van Gogh’s time. The interiors of the café invokes a sorrowful feeling to some viewers because the colors were so dark unlike his other paintings. The brushstrokes were also more prominent.
“Van Gogh communicated the “madness” of the place by selecting vivid hues whose juxtaposition augmented their intensity. His insistence on the expressive values of color led him to develop a corresponding expressiveness in his paint application.” (Kleiner, 702).
Despite his mental illness, van Gogh championed in portraying the fragility of human life and emotions. Many scholars proposed an explanation based on postmodernist analysis about The Night Café. Van Gogh’s painting addresses the issue of despair prevalent amongst the French lower class people; the café provides a safe refuge for the people forgotten by the society. Aside from emphasizing the situation of the common people, scholar Ellliot Benjamin established the nexus of his psychological illness and the artistic disturbance found in the painting. Mental disturbance is closely linked to artistic perspective because the painting shows what the real world looks like. The colors from the painting suggest a sinister quality akin to sadness which is the emotion felt by the customers of the café. Despite the outrageous colors, van Gogh managed to capture what the Impressionists failed to do. He showed that art is not only meant to showcase the beauty of life. It can also serve as journal of the artist to record his thoughts, emotions, and reactions on his surroundings. Upon its initial release, many people commented that his artwork was ugly and lacked proportions but it seems that they cannot understand the message of the artist. Furthermore, van Gogh’s work challenged the way painters portray their subjects. For instance, some artists portray happy subjects whilst van Gogh was the painter of the common people. The Night Café of van Gogh was given to the Yale University and until today, the artwork still hangs in its wide galleries.

Works Cited

Gogh, Vincent van. “Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh Arles, 6 August 1888.” Letters of Vincent van Gogh. Web.
Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective Vol. II. 14th Ed. Boston: Cengage Learning. PDF File.

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WePapers. (2021, March, 28) The Night Café By Vincent Van Gogh: A Critical Analysis Essay Example. Retrieved June 12, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-night-cafe-by-vincent-van-gogh-a-critical-analysis-essay-example/
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