a starry night

A starry night
2) Van Gogh painted the view from his east-facing window in the asylum 21 times. Although the series depicts various times of day and night and different weather conditions, all the works include the line of rolling hills in the distance. None show the bars on the window of his room.
3) The artist considered “The Starry Night,” which one day would rank among his most famous works, to be a failure, according to what he wrote to his brother.

A starry night
By 1888, van Gogh had returned to the French countryside, where he would remain until his death. There, close once again to the peasants who had inspired him early on, he concentrated on painting landscapes, portraits (of himself and others), domestic interiors, and still lifes full of personal symbolism.
1889. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/4″ (73.7 x 92.1 cm)

A starry night
Van Gogh painted The Starry Night during his 12-month stay at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, several months after suffering a breakdown in which he severed a part of his own ear with a razor. While at the asylum, he painted during bursts of productivity that alternated with moods of despair. As an artist who preferred working from observation, van Gogh was limited to the subjects that surrounded him—his own likeness, views outside his studio window, and the surrounding countryside that he could visit with a chaperone.
The Starry Night, a moderately abstract landscape painting (1889) of an expressive night sky over a small hillside village, one of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh’s most celebrated works.

A starry night
Starry Night is one of the most recognized pieces of art in the world. It is absolutely everywhere, too. It can be seen on coffee, mugs, t-shirts, towels, magnets, etc. Honestly, it sometimes feels as if the painting’s fame has exceeded that of its creator. It is a magnificent piece of art. That Starry Night resonates with so many people is a testament to how its beauty is timeless and universal.
Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night in 1889 during his stay at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Van Gogh lived well in the hospital; he was allowed more freedoms than any of the other patients. If attended, he could leave the hospital grounds; he was allowed to paint, read, and withdraw into his own room. He was even given a studio. While he suffered from the occasional relapse into paranoia and fits – officially he had been diagnosed with epileptic fits – it seemed his mental health was recovering.
Unfortunately, he relapsed. He began to suffer hallucination and have thoughts of suicide as he plunged into depression. Accordingly, there was a tonal shift in his work. He returned to incorporating the darker colors from the beginning of his career and Starry Night is a wonderful example of that shift. Blue dominates the painting, blending hills into the sky. The little village lays at the base in the painting in browns, greys, and blues. Even though each building is clearly outlined in black, the yellow and white of the stars and the moon stand out against the sky, drawing the eyes to the sky. They are the big attention grabber of the painting.

A starry night
While stopping short of calling the painting a hallucinatory vision, Naifeh and Smith discuss The Starry Night in the context of Van Gogh’s mental illness, which they identify as temporal lobe epilepsy, or latent epilepsy. [78] “Not the kind,” they write, “known since antiquity, that caused the limbs to jerk and the body to collapse (‘the falling sickness’, as it was sometimes called), but a mental epilepsy—a seizing up of the mind: a collapse of thought, perception, reason, and emotion that manifested itself entirely in the brain and often prompted bizarre, dramatic behavior.” [79] Symptoms of the seizures “resembled fireworks of electrical impulses in the brain.” [30]
Art historian Ronald Pickvance says that with “its arbitrary collage of separate motifs,” The Starry Night “is overtly stamped as an ‘abstraction’.” [72] Pickvance claims that cypress trees were not visible facing east from Van Gogh’s room, and he includes them with the village and the swirls in the sky as products of Van Gogh’s imagination. [1] Boime asserts that the cypresses were visible in the east, [16] as does Jirat-Wasiutyński. [73] Van Gogh biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith concur, saying that Van Gogh “telescoped” the view in certain of the pictures of the view from his window, [20] and it stands to reason that Van Gogh would do this in a painting featuring the Morning Star. Such a compression of depth serves to enhance the brightness of the planet.

References:

http://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/vincent-van-gogh-the-starry-night-1889/
http://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Starry-Night
http://www.vangoghgallery.com/painting/starry-night.html
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Starry_Night
http://www.vangoghgallery.com/painting/starry-night.html

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