The 6 Best Paintings With the Word "Night" in the Title

Two of these can be seen at the same if you're standing in the right spot at the Art Institute of Chicago.

6.  Night Watch by Rembrandt Van Rijn

I've seen this in person and it's huge (11' x 14'). Painted in the Chiaroscuro style as indicative of it's time- The focal point is also the lightest point.  At the time this was painted (1642), candle was the only available artificial light source and lighting huge paintings such as this or church murals was difficult. Painters used the Chiaroscuro style (which translates to "light and shadows") so the focus of the subject could be seen even in poor lighting- which candle light often was for such huge paintings.

With today's modern lighting it's not as easy to appreciate, but if the lights were dimmed on this painting, you'd see the periphery of the painting disappear, with only the three lightly-colored central figures visible, as though a spotlight were on them.


5. Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Everyone loves Van Gogh. His impasto style with the chunky brush strokes makes us all think it was painted by a genius second grader.

4. Cafe Terrace at Night by Vincent Van Gogh

It turns out this is an actual painting and not just a poster for female college sophomores. Who knew?


3. Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

These three people appear so alone. Who are they and where did they come from? To go all Eleanor Rigby on you-  where do they all belong? Also, how did they get here literally- as there are no doors?  Are they stuck here with no place to go? They may as well be stranded on the moon- alone with eachother.

2. Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh (yet Again)


Where Starry Night seems to evoke feelings of turbulence or uncertainty, this painting is all tranquil all the time.

1.Nightlife by Archibald Motley Jr.

My favorite painting in the city of Chicago by a mile. I love the colors, I love the vibrancy, I love the mood evocation, I love how the people's arms are rarely drawn using straight lines.

On New Year's Eve I attended a members-only seminar about this painting at the 'tute (The Art Institute of Chicago). The painting was described as depicting both a "juke joint" and a "den of vice". I learned it was controversial with whites because it depicted blacks having fun, and among blacks because all of the black women depicted are light-skinned. Still others took offense to the dancers at the top-right of the painting for looking to African-y.

I leave the complaining about this piece to the critics  because I can't find much wrong with it.


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  • According to Webster, nighthawks are people who habitually are active late at night. At three a.m. some streets can be just as desolate as a moonscape.

  • Someone hasn't seen the amazing self-portrait of M. Night Shyamalan.

  • In reply to gwill:

    His rear ending was shocking and didn't seem congruent with the rest of his body. I liked his body up until that point, but the rear end really made me question the whole thing.

  • In reply to TRSlyder:

    I followed everything you just said except for the very last part.

    (btw, are any of you guys on twitter? Just got on there)

  • In reply to gwill:

    Heck yeah, welcome aboard to Twitter, I'm @AndyDisco. I will make sure to follow you.

  • And the oil base depiction of a scene from "The Nightman Cometh"

  • TR, check out my blog for another "night" painting to consider.

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    I leave the complaining about this piece to the critics because I can't find much wrong with it.
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