Formal Analysis - "The Cafe Terrace on the Place Du Forum, Arles, at Night"

Topics: Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhone, Arles Pages: 5 (1895 words) Published: May 3, 2012
The painting that I chose to write my formal analysis on is called “The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, At Night”. This piece was created by Vincent Van Gogh in Arles, France and was completed sometime in September of 1888. This painting is oil on canvas, and it is currently housed in the Kroller-Muller Museum located in Otterlo, The Netherlands in Europe.

This painting depicts a sidewalk café in France at night. There is a doorway to the front left of the painting that is painted blue, and is surrounded by a wall that gleams yellow from the outdoor lights. Attached to the wall, there is a large awning, and it covers the diners and the empty tables that are a part of the café. Above the awning, there are open window shutters that are painted green. A server dressed in black and white and holding a tray walks between the customers, which are all gathered to the rear of the restaurant, and there are six tables filled with diners dressed in ordinary dark clothes. There are eight empty tables taking residence in the painting, and they are placed towards the front of the painting, and also to the right of the diners. Next to and behind the café, there are people walking through the night streets. The pedestrians are dressed in brighter colors and more elaborate clothes than those that are seated. There is a street next to the restaurant that appears to be made of cobblestones, and the street winds around the restaurant to the rear of the painting and towards a dark town in the background. On the far right of the painting and opposite of the people eating, there are buildings lining the street. There are seventeen lit windows in various buildings on the street side. The building that is directly across from the café also appears to be a business, and the windows are wider that the buildings behind them. In the very front of the painting, a tree is visible, and the leaves are still green. Above everything in the painting, there is a blue sky and large bright stars that shine yellow. The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, At Night is painted using oil paints on canvas. When Van Gogh painted this piece, he was most likely on site, and used tubes of paint. Van Gogh had a very particular method of creating new pieces of art, first drawing preliminary drawings and often writing about his new works to his brother, Theo. After completing one or more preliminary drawings, Van Gogh would gather his canvas, tubes of paint, and brushes, and would take pleasure in going outside to paint his objects firsthand. Van Gogh had a unique method of painting involving brushstrokes; he made large thick strokes, and sometimes forwent using any brushes at all, choosing to paint from a tube directly onto the canvas.

Van Gogh used many elements of art elements in his works. The first element that is obvious in The Café Terrace is the element of line. The cobblestone street in the work illustrates line use, because they are framed with short, black lines. These small lines also add an element of texture to the painting. Another instance of line is evident in the buildings in the painting. The windows, doors, and other elements of the houses and businesses are defined more obviously because of the inclusion of black lines. The doorway edge at the front left of the painting is a line that leads the viewer’s eye to the awning. The line of the edge of the awning is another example of line, because it draws the eye down to the street, and the street draws you back to the café and the town behind it. Another example of an art element found in The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, At Night is the element of space. There is a lot of space between the café and the buildings across the street, and the space is broken only by the nighttime pedestrians roaming the streets. Space is also represented by the crowd of diners that is gathered at the back of the restaurant. The crowd, along with the server, is crowded together and mirrors...
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