NIGHT CAFE by bob Kessel


NIGHT CAFE by Bob Kessel after Van Gogh

“NIGHT CAFE” by Bob Kessel, based on Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, can be purchased as a signed and numbered limited edition original fine art print. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

The Night Café in the Place Lamartine in Arles is one of Vincent van Gogh’s best known paintings from his Arles period. The work depicts the interior of the Café de la Gare, an all night tavern owned by Joseph-Michel Ginoux and his wife Marie.


NIGHT CAFE by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh often visited brothels and disreputable drinking establishments. The desolate setting of the Café de la Gare served as an inspiration for Van Gogh who wrote of the painting to his brother, Theo:

In my picture of the “Night Café” I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad or commit a crime. So I have tried to express, as it were, the powers of darkness in a low public house, by soft Louis XV green and malachite, contrasting with yellow-green and harsh blue-greens, and all this in an atmosphere like a devil’s furnace, of pale sulphur.

Vincent Van Gogh, Letter 534, 9 September 1888

The subject matter conveys a sense of loneliness and desperation. The slouched drinkers and lone figure (the owner, Joseph-Michel Ginoux) behind the billiard table, along with the skewed perspective and stark colouring, create a jarring and disturbing work. Van Gogh himself compared the tone of the painting as delirium tremens in full swing (Letter 534).

As a general rule, Van Gogh only signed the works that he felt were the most well executed. In the lower right corner of this painting Van Gogh wrote “Vincent le café de nuit”.

Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh’s friend and fellow artist, would come to live with Vincent shortly after The Night Café was painted. In fact, Gauguin himself would paint his own version. The atmosphere of the two works is quite different. In Van Gogh’s version, one finds isolation and despair, while Gauguin’s is more lively with a focus on Madame Ginoux. Gauguin wrote to Emile Bernard about his painting: ” . . . a café that Vincent likes a lot and that I like less. At bottom it’s not my sort of thing and local low life doesn’t work for me. I like it well enough when others do it but it always makes me uneasy.”


NIGHT CAFE by Paul Gauguin




“DIAMOND VAN GOGH BY GAUGUIN” by Bob Kessel, from the new art series “PAINTERS PAINTING PAINTERS”, can be purchased as a signed and numbered limited edition original fine art print. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.



Gauguin’s arrival in Arles on October 23 1888 signaled the inauguration of the Studio of the South. The following two months, during which the artists lived, ate, and worked together, were marked by an intensity that van Gogh described as “excessively electric,” as they debated aesthetic influences and working methods and sought to refine and maintain their individual artistic identities. Van Gogh, who painted very rapidly, applying thick coats of pigment, preferred working from models or directly from nature.

Gauguin, on the other hand, counseled: “art is an abstraction; extract it from nature while dreaming in front of it,”

and preferred to work from memory, building up thin layers of color in a slow, methodical style.

Testing their theories, the two artists painted a number of identical motifs side by side. In the ancient Roman cemetery known as the Alyscamps, Van Gogh worked with characteristic speed, quickly producing what he called “a study of the whole avenue, entirely yellow.” Gauguin proceeded more deliberately, creating a more abstract composition featuring three Arlésiennes (women of Arles), whom he ironically referred to as “the three graces.” Later the artists produced similarly divergent results in their depictions of the proprietress of the local café: Van Gogh’s Night Café and Gauguin’s The Arlésienne (Madame Ginoux).

As winter approached, the two artists were increasingly confined to the tiny yellow house. Their aesthetic debates intensified and the tension of living and working together soon proved to be too great; Gauguin began to speak of returning to Paris. At the end of December, van Gogh, distraught, threatened Gauguin with a knife, then cut off part of his own ear. Gauguin fled, never to see van Gogh again.



DAUBIGNY by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh

Bob Kessel’s art series “VAN GOGH” features pictures based on Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings like in the picture “DAUBIGNY” shown above. These pictures are available as signed and numbered limited edition fine art prints. Contact Bob Kessel for pricing and availability.


GARDENER by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


COTTAGES by BOb Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


FIELDS by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


NUDE by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


PARISIENS by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


WHEATFIELD by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


SHOES by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


ST PAULS by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


SUNFLOWERS by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh


HERRING by Bob Kessel
apres Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, for whom color was the chief symbol of expression, was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland. The son of a pastor, brought up in a religious and cultured atmosphere, Vincent was highly emotional and lacked self-confidence. Between 1860 and 1880, when he finally decided to become an artist, van Gogh had had two unsuitable and unhappy romances and had worked unsuccessfully as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and a preacher in the Borinage (a dreary mining district in Belgium), where he was dismissed for overzealousness. He remained in Belgium to study art, determined to give happiness by creating beauty. The works of his early Dutch period are somber-toned, sharply lit, genre paintings of which the most famous is “The Potato Eaters” (1885). In that year van Gogh went to Antwerp where he discovered the works of Rubens and purchased many Japanese prints.

In 1886 he went to Paris to join his brother Théo, the manager of Goupil’s gallery. In Paris, van Gogh studied with Cormon, inevitably met Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin, and began to lighten his very dark palette and to paint in the short brushstrokes of the Impressionists. His nervous temperament made him a difficult companion and night-long discussions combined with painting all day undermined his health. He decided to go south to Arles where he hoped his friends would join him and help found a school of art. Gauguin did join him but with disastrous results. In a fit of epilepsy, van Gogh pursued his friend with an open razor, was stopped by Gauguin, but ended up cutting a portion of his ear lobe off. Van Gogh then began to alternate between fits of madness and lucidity and was sent to the asylum in Saint-Remy for treatment.

In May of 1890, he seemed much better and went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise under the watchful eye of Dr. Gachet. Two months later he was dead, having shot himself “for the good of all.” During his brief career he had sold one painting. Van Gogh’s finest works were produced in less than three years in a technique that grew more and more impassioned in brushstroke, in symbolic and intense color, in surface tension, and in the movement and vibration of form and line. Van Gogh’s inimitable fusion of form and content is powerful; dramatic, lyrically rhythmic, imaginative, and emotional, for the artist was completely absorbed in the effort to explain either his struggle against madness or his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature.