The Night Café
,(1888) by Vincent Van Gogh
was meant to convey
an atmosphere of evil
through every possible discongruity
of the color spectrum
. It is supposed to be felt
, and not simply observed
. Van Gogh
described it in a letter to his brother Theo:
"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 citron-yellow lamps with a glow of orange and green. Everywhere there is a clash and contrast of the most disparate reds and greens in the figures of little sleepy 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 Louise XV green of the counter, on which there is a pink nosegay. The white coat of the landlord, awake in the corner of that furnace, turns citron-yellow, or pale luminous green."
The proprietor, the seditious demon who rules over the place, rises like a specter from the edge of the billiard table, which is depicted in a steeply tilted perspective that suggests a spinning vertiginous world.
Van Gogh: A Self-portrait, Letters Revealing His Life As a Painter