Cafe Terrace at Night Analysis & Elements of Art

Cafe Terrace at Night Analysis & Elements of Art

Vincent van Gogh's cafe terrace at night is one of his most famous works. It depicts a cafe terrace at night, a quiet cafe spot with many shady trees. But there may be a deeper meaning to this painting than meets the eye. This article explores the subject, style, and elements of art of this famous painting.

Vincent van Gogh's cafe terrace at night analysis

Vincent van Gogh's cafe terrace at night

Vincent van Gogh's cafe terrace painting at night has important elements of art. This painting reveals the artist's inner thoughts, depicting his feelings for others.

Its composition is composed of two main parts: the left part is very well-lit and represents his mood and energy. It also features a cafe with green windows that represent an open mind, while the right section is very dimly lit. The right section is a more dark and somber representation of his past.

This painting was painted on location and in situ. The artist wanted to portray the colors in a way that people would experience them firsthand. This is why he did not use black or dark colors to create a night scene. He chose a deep blue color to give viewers a feeling of the night sky.

Vincent van Gogh's history into cafe terrace

Vincent van Gogh

In the late nineteenth century, the artist began traveling to different cities. He was influenced by the art of the Impressionists. Then in 1888, after spending two years in Paris, he decided to move to a small town named Arles.

There, he lived in the yellow house with the artist Paul Gauguin. However, the two did not last long as their personalities clashed. The artist captured the textures of the night scene using various techniques during his time in Arles.  

He used line, texture, and vivid colors to capture the textures of the streets and buildings. Interestingly, he painted the trees in the foreground with wisps of white paint, which give the effect of clouds. The artist once said that nighttime is more beautiful than daytime because the colors of the stars interact and blend into a beautiful palette.

The different names of cafe terrace

The Café Terrace at night painting is often referred to by several names. The original title was Coffeehouse, while many people still call it Cafe Terrace at Night. The work was painted in September 1888 and was the first to feature a starry sky.


Jared Baxter Cafe terrace's subject analysis

Jared Baxter's scholarly analysis of "Cafe Terrace at Night" submitted to the 2013 European Conference on Arts and Humanities highlights several key elements in the painting.

Among them are the central figure with long hair surrounded by 12 figures, and the cross shining in the background. Crosses are common elements in Van Gogh's paintings, and this one is no exception.

A shadowy figure slipping through the doorway is an additional religious allusion. Van Gogh also emphasized the nighttime scene by focusing on texture and shape. He used smooth strokes to paint the cobblestones on the ground, while the awning and wall are both languid and textured.

The foreground tree's fronds almost seem to bristle off the canvas. Similarly, the wisps of white paint along the edges of buildings and the surrounding area resemble clouds. While it is possible that Vincent was thinking about the Maupassant reference in Cafe Terrace at Night, the truth is that he had not.

The painting is an art piece in its own right. It has received worldwide attention and is a major tourist attraction in Arles. Its worth is between $120 million and $159 million. The original work is a reflection of the Place du Forum in Arles, France. 

Cafe terrace's style

This work is considered an example of impressionism, a movement that was popular in the early nineteenth century. Although it's not an exact representation of this movement, it does contain elements of it. For instance, Van Gogh studied the night sky and the surroundings in Arles while creating this piece. As a result, the painting incorporates both fantastical and spiritual elements.

While The Starry Night is Van Gogh's most famous painting, it's not his only starry night work. It inspired the artist to paint his famous Starry Night Over the Rhone the following year. The Cafe Terrace at Night is an important piece of art that is used in the German Expressionism movement. It's also a popular subject of TV shows such as "Doctor Who," which featured an adaptation of the painting in 2010.

The Café Terrace at Night is featured in the Lust for Life film. It also has a starring role in the new film, Vincent and the Doctor, and has been featured on BBC's 100 Great Paintings series. As a result, this piece has gained a unique place in the history of art.

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Cafe terrace's meaning

Vincent van Gogh was a religious man who felt that painting was a good way to share his faith. His father was a Dutch Reformed minister. He wanted to spread the message of his faith to everyone. He also wrote letters to his brother explaining his religious beliefs. The central figure in Café Terrace at Night is an iconic example of Van Gogh's religious work.

The group of twelve people in the painting is reminiscent of Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples. Many scholars have noted the religious themes in the painting. Some even speculate that this painting represents the Last Supper, a Renaissance masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci.

Vincent also added a Christmas tree branch in the foreground. The patterning of the work is a crucial element of the painting. The elliptical form of the tabletops matches the starry sky outline.

Cafe terrace attribution & elements of art

This painting has a combination of figurative and abstract elements. While it is considered a part of the Impressionist movement, it differs from many impressionist works in some important ways.

Van Gogh set up his easel in front of the café and took inspiration from the surroundings, adding fantastical and spiritual elements to his composition. Van Gogh rooted his social scene in the cafe and emphasized the theme of human connection.

The people in Cafe Terrace at Night cluster close together without being easily identifiable, underscoring the idea of human connection. The double glow of the café's lights emphasizes this theme of social connection. The starry sky is another element that evokes this feeling.

The painter appreciated the night sky, which is evident in the constellations depicted in the painting. Using contrasting colors and textures in a painting is a way to make the composition appear more realistic.

The warm yellow and cool blue color palettes enliven the composition. The texture of the stone and foliage is also noticeable, with its horizontal bumps. Moreover, the leaves appear to be painted in long, thick strokes, giving them the illusion of dimension.

Despite being one of his most famous paintings, this painting is not without its controversy. Whether or not the painting is representative of his life, it is still a complicated work of art.

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