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Cafe Terrace at Night

also known as Terrasse de Cafe la Nuit

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh
Created: 1888
Dimensions (cm): 65.5 x 81.0
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: Rijksmuseum Kroller-Mueller, Otterlo, Netherlands

Cafe Terrace at Night

Unlike many of Van Gogh's other wheat field landscapes, Crows over the Wheat Field does not evoke a pleasant, summery mood but rather projects an air of despair and tragedy. Van Gogh's own sadness can be felt through this work.

Van Gogh, suffering from mental illness, tried to create order in his painting as a means of resisting his own mental instability and as a way of fighting against his own breakdown. In Crows over the Wheat Field, order is created by dividing the canvas into separate parts. The artist uses color to identify each part: the blue sky, the yellow wheat, the red roads, the green grass and the black crows. Despite this attempt at maintaining order, the stormy brushwork creates a tension and turbulence in the scene. This turbulence is furthered by the presence of the three paths in the field which either end randomly or run directly out of the picture. These roads to nowhere contribute to the unsettling tone of the piece.

The crows which fly above the field certainly contribute greatly to the disquieting or threatening atmosphere. As the blue sky and yellow field pull away from each other, black crows cross the boundary between them and advance towards the foreground. The crows seem to be messengers of doom and communicate the artist's personal distress.

The fiery emotion of the artist underlies this scene, and the result is a disturbing and ominous work. Van Gogh's solitude and unhappiness pervade the work.


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