Vincent Van Gogh - Café Terrace in the Evening

by Alexandra Tuschka

The café at the Place du Forum in Arles today looks almost exactly as it does in this painting - excluding, of course, the expressive forms that van Gogh used to depict his perception. In the 1990s, the café owners decided that the impression of their establishment should resemble that of van Gogh's painting - reversing the original process.


Arles was originally intended to be only a brief stopover for van Gogh, but he ultimately stayed there for over a year. During this time, van Gogh was inspired by the strong colors of the surroundings - it was to become his most productive period. In addition to the "blue," which van Gogh seemed to perceive more strongly here, he began to be fascinated by the starry sky. In this painting, too, it occupies the upper part of the picture. Some time later, two more paintings of the night sky were created - the depiction of the sky is similar to the one here.

The contrast of the complementary colors blue and yellow dominates the painting. In terms of area, the two correspond to each other and combine in the front path to form a loose unity. The front seats of the café are empty. Invitingly, two chairs have turned towards the viewer. In the deeper picture space some people have already settled down at the tables. A waiter is serving the first orders. And from the depths of the center of the picture, a horse-drawn carriage is approaching.


Vincent Van Gogh - Café Terrace in the Evening

Oil on canvas, 1888, 81 cm × 65.5 cm, Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo


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