Night café, Arles (1888; Arles-sur-tech, France) by Paul Gauguin

Night café, Arles - Paul Gauguin - 1888; Arles-sur-tech, France

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Artwork Information

TitleNight café, Arles
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1888; Arles-sur-tech, France
Dimensions73 x 92 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationPushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia

About Night café, Arles

The artwork titled “Night Café, Arles” was created by the artist Paul Gauguin in 1888 at Arles-sur-Tech, France. This genre painting is rendered in oil on jute and exemplifies the Post-Impressionist movement. The dimensions of this piece are 73 by 92 centimeters. Currently, it is housed in the Pushkin Museum located in Moscow, Russia.

The artwork presents an intimate indoor scene set within a café at night. In the foreground, a lone figure dominates the composition, leaning on a table and resting their head against their hand. Their gaze seems distant, reflective, or disengaged, imparting a sense of introspection or melancholy. To their side lies an empty bottle and a glass, suggesting the remains of a solitary drinking session.

Behind this figure, the café stretches away, revealing a billiards table around which more patrons are gathered. These figures are observed participating in leisurely activities, like playing billiards or engaging in conversation. The use of color is vibrant but earthy, with warm reds and yellows defining the walls and ceiling, whilst softer browns and greens describe the furniture and the billiards table.

The contrast between the colorful yet gloomy setting and the activities of the cafés patrons imparts the painting with an air of existential solemnity. Gauguin’s technique and brushwork contribute to the dramatic atmosphere, with stylized, simplified forms and a bold use of color that reflect the essence of Post-Impressionism, an art movement that was characterized by a vivid expression of subjective experience and emotional depth.

Furthermore, the juxtaposition of the contemplative individual in the foreground with the social interaction in the background could be interpreted as a commentary on human isolation, even within communal settings. Gauguin, known for his experimental color and symbolist representations, lays emphasis on mood and ambiance, drawing the viewer into the contemplative nature of the café’s night scene.

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