starry night vincent van gogh
Observation and Imagination in The Starry Night (1889)
Largely self-taught, van Gogh produced more than 2,000 oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and sketches, which became in demand only after his death. He also wrote scores of letters, especially to his brother Theo, in which he worked out his thoughts about art. вЂњAlways continue walking a lot and loving nature, for thatвЂ™s the real way to learn to understand art better and better,вЂќ he wrote in 1874. вЂњPainters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see.вЂќ 1
Widely hailed as Van Gogh’s magnum opus, the painting depicts the view outside his sanatorium room window at night, although it was painted from memory during the day.
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.
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.
The oil-on-canvas painting is dominated by a night sky roiling with chromatic blue swirls, a glowing yellow crescent moon, and stars rendered as radiating orbs. One or two cypress trees, often described as flame-like, tower over the foreground to the left, their dark branches curling and swaying to the movement of the sky that they partly obscure. Amid all this animation, a structured village sits in the distance on the lower right of the canvas. Straight controlled lines make up the small cottages and the slender steeple of a church, which rises as a beacon against rolling blue hills. The glowing yellow squares of the houses suggest the welcoming lights of peaceful homes, creating a calm corner amid the painting’s turbulence.
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.
During the year Van Gogh stayed at the asylum, the prolific output of paintings he had begun in Arles continued.  During this period, he produced some of the best-known works of his career, including the Irises from May 1889, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the blue self-portrait from September, 1889, in the Musée d’Orsay. The Starry Night was painted mid-June by around 18 June, the date he wrote to his brother Theo to say he had a new study of a starry sky.    [L 1]
F1548 Wheatfield, Saint-Rémy de Provence, Morgan Library & Museum