The Night Cafe

The painting "Night Cafe" by Vincent Van GoghIt was a Van Gogh painting that opened my eyes to art when I was about 10. Then I came to Yale and discovered The Night Cafe in the Yale Art Gallery. This painting opened a direct, personal relationship with Van Gogh’s work that has never left me. I have stared at it countless times: the glowing lamps, the billiard table, and the mysterious man in white inviting you in. I even searched out the spot where that cafe was in Arles, in the south of France. I still visit that painting virtually every time I’m in New Haven. If there is one artwork in the world that feels most like “mine”, it is The Night Cafe.

Stuart Cohen

Oldenburg’s Lipstick (Ascending)

Oldenburg Lipstick in Morse courtyardFrom the day in 1969 that Claes Oldenburg’s Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks first appeared in Beinecke Plaza it was magnificently outrageous. With its bright-red plastic inflatable tip that has since been replaced by a rigid metal one, it was both confrontational and sexy, both feminine and phallic. Like a lightning rod, the Lipstick drew angry crowds protesting culture wars and armed conflicts. Protest leaders couldn’t help but jump upon its tank treads to bark revolution through megaphones. Yet … it made one smile during those demonstrations. It’s now in a quieter venue, the Morse courtyard, retired from battle, but also unable to temper the crowd’s passion with its irony.

Ben Slotznick

Nathan Hale

Statue of Nathan Hale in Old CampusIn my junior year, in high school, a spry woman of sixty taught U.S. history. She conveyed the drama and the details. The story of Nathan Hale and his famous words particularly struck me. After high school, I joined the army. After the army, I came to Yale. One of my first encounters with its history was the statue of Nathan Hale on the old campus. When I brought my kids to Yale in later years to see a football game, we usually made a detour to that solitary statue.

David Ezzio