year: 1978
duration: 50 min

By way of an appeal on television and an advertisement in various newspapers, 1350 owners of the reproduction of Van Gogh’s “Outdoor Café at Night” come forward. Sinke visited twenty people in twenty living rooms and discovered that everyone is his own art critic with his own feeling for and experience of art.
source: catalogue Vincent van Gogh on film and video 1990

Thousands of people have a reproduction of a Van Gogh painting hanging on their walls. Usually such a reproduction stays in the house for years and it would not be noticed until it was no longer there. Everyone seems to have had a Van Gogh once.
This film is about one such reproduction: the café terrace at night. What is it that motivates someone to make a film about it? Director Digna Sinke writes about this.
“On a good day in the fifties, my father, probably through the contact sheet for civil servants, had arranged a home exchange. As a holiday we would temporarily stay in the house of an Arnhem official; he and his family would occupy our home in Middelburg for that period. A cheap holiday, because economy and industry at that time built houses like castles.
One of the great highlights of this holiday was a visit to the Kröller Müller Museum. Because my father never heard much about art before he was twenty, my sister and I obviously had to get acquainted with it. In my opinion we walked through the museum for a day and finally we were allowed to pick out postcards of paintings.
They were later stuck in a scrapbook by my father and he wrote what he had already asked us: why we had picked those postcards, why we found those paintings so beautiful. In those days we were not burdened with knowledge, and yet we already knew a lot: everyone is his own favorite art critic.
In the meantime, I started to look at Van Gogh differently. The cafe terrace at night is no longer my favourite painting, but what counts above all is the importance of such a kind of experience. Out of curiosity I went in search of owners of the reproduction.

About 30 people responded to an advertisement in newspapers.
Approximately 1,300 owners reacted to a call on television. That’s how I came into contact with big and small, faded and brand new reproductions, printed on linen or silk, dozens of self-painted copies.

And with very different people with their own story, their own view of art, their own idea of who Van Gogh was.
This is how a film was created that makes you insecure about whether a reproduction by Van Gogh is a surrogate. Such a printed sheet of paper or fabric turns out to be able to start a lot. All those people who have become their own art connoisseur or Van Gogh are proving that.

idea & direction: Digna Sinke
camera: Fred Mekenkamp and Dirk Teenstra
sound: Aart Verheul
editing: Gerrit Hart
re-recording mix: Ferry Brand
organisation: Hans Nieman
commissioning editor: Jan Venema.

NOS-Beeldspraak, broadcast 14-2-1978 22.05 – 22.55 Nederland 1.
broadcast ERT (Greece)15 September 1978

A Van Gogh on the Wall / Een Van Gogh aan de muur was the Dutch submission for the Prix d’Italia