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

The Old Campus

Old Campus in the fallThe Old Campus is a place out of time. Such a large yard, ringed with buildings, all of them over 100 years old. It’s a space designed for things to happen there, so big that almost anything can: walking, playing games, sitting in the sun, or many activities at once. The criss-cross of walkways leads you on one path or another but you don’t have to stay on them. It feels safe, both a place held together by tradition and a blank canvas on which to create.

Stuart Cohen

The hockey rink

Ingalls hockey rinkI like the hockey rink, known as the Yale Whale and designed by architect Eero Saarinen. It’s a ridiculous building, with a massive swooping roofline that lifts in the center as if it housed some tall or powerful object. But it’s a hockey rink. The only thing inside is the flat ice surface and seating around it. The gesture of the design has no bearing on the function of the building, but it’s fun and distinctive. You’d never see such a thing where use dictates design, but at a major university you can get away with such things.

– Stuart Cohen

The streets at night

Pre-dawn on Elm St.My sharpest memory of physical Yale was about 3 AM one night after I returned something to someone on the other side of the campus. There were no cars and no people. I walked down the middle of normally busy streets, with silent buildings especially the Gothic colleges looming up on either side. It was serene, noble and very quiet. The feeling was of being in a place that is as alive as the people who occupy it, now also sleeping in anticipation of another day.

Stuart Cohen