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AH Lecture 20: Impressionism and Its Critics

Terms in this set (40)

Night Cafe
Oil on canvas, 1888
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

colors=emotions, looks like sliding down, drink/gambling=slide down

Today I am probably going to begin on the interior of the café where I have a room, by gas light, in the evening. It is what they call here a "café de nuit" (they are fairly frequent here), staying open all night. "Night prowlers" can take refuge there when they have no money to pay for a lodging, or are too drunk to be taken in."
Vincent to Theo from Arles, August 1888
"I have tried to express the terrible passions of humanity by means of red and green. The room is blood red and dark yellow with a green billiard table in the middle; there are four lemon-yellow lamps with a glow of orange and green. Everywhere there is a clash and contrast of the most alien reds and greens, in the figures of little sleeping hooligans, in the empty dreary room, in violet and blue. The blood-red and the yellow-green of the billiard table, for instance, contrast with the soft tender Louis XV green of the counter, on which there is a rose nosegay. The white clothes of the landlord, watchful in a corner of that furnace, turn lemon-yellow, or pale luminous green. " The next day (September 9), he wrote Theo: "In my picture of the Night Café I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad or commit a crime. So I have tried to express, as it were, the powers of darkness in a low public house, by soft Louis XV green and malachite, contrasting with yellow- green and harsh blue-greens, and all this in an atmosphere like a devil's furnace, of pale sulphur. And all with an appearance of Japanese gaiety, and the good nature of Tartarin."
Vincent to Theo from Arles, September 1888