Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night

Sep 21, 2008–Jan 5, 2009


Vincent van Gogh. Eugène Boch (The Poet). 1888. Oil on canvas. 23 5/8 × 17 11/16″ (60 × 45 cm). Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Bequest of Eugène Boch through the Société des Amis du Louvre, 1941. © Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY. Photo: Hervé Lewandowski
  • MoMA, Floor 2, Exhibition Galleries Exhibition Galleries

Throughout his career, Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890) attempted the paradoxical task of representing night by light. His procedure followed the trend set by the Impressionists of “translating” visual light effects with various color combinations. At the same time, this concern was grafted onto Van Gogh’s desire to interweave the visual and the metaphorical in order to produce fresh and deeply original works of art. These different artistic concerns found themselves powerfully bound together in Van Gogh’s nocturnal and twilight paintings and drawings. This exhibition will present new insight into Van Gogh’s depictions of night landscapes, interior scenes, and the effects of both gaslight and natural light on their surroundings. Representing all periods of the artist’s career, the exhibition will comprise over two dozen works of superlative quality—several of which have never been seen together, even though they were very clearly conceived with each other in mind. This exhibition will be shown at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, February 13–June 7, 2009. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

Organized by Joachim Pissarro, Adjunct Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art; Sjraar van Heugten, Head of Collections, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; and Jennifer Field, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

The exhibition is made possible by Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman.

The Museum acknowledges important grants from the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust and David Teiger.

Major support is provided by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Additional funding is provided by The Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.


  • Vincent van Gogh and the Colors of the Night Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 160 pages
  • Vincent van Gogh and the Colors of the Night Exhibition catalogue, Paperback, 160 pages
  • Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night Paperback, 48 pages
  • Press release 5 pages


Installation images

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].