where was starry night painted
While there’s no denying the popularity of Starry Night, it’s also interesting to note that there is very little known about Vincent’s own feelings toward his work. This is mainly due to the fact that he only mentions it in his letters to Theo twice (Letters 595 and 607), and then only in passing. In his correspondence with his brother, Vincent would often discuss specific works in great detail, but not so in the case of Starry Night. Why? It’s difficult to say.
Some people have made stylistic comparisons to Vincent’s other well known and equally turbulent work Wheatfield with Crows. Does the tumultuous style of these works reflect a tortured mind? Or is there something more we can read within the whorls Vincent’s raging night sky? This is what makes Starry Night not only Vincent’s most famous work, but also one of its most frequently interpreted in terms of its meaning and importance.
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.
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.
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.
Van Gogh experienced his second breakdown in seven months in July 1889.  Naifeh and Smith theorize that the seeds of this breakdown were present when Van Gogh painted The Starry Night, that in giving himself over to his imagination “his defenses had been breached.”  On that day in mid-June, in a “state of heightened reality,” with all the other elements of the painting in place,  Van Gogh threw himself into the painting of the stars, producing, they write, “a night sky unlike any other the world had ever seen with ordinary eyes.” 
Soth uses Van Gogh’s statement to his brother, that The Starry Night is “an exaggeration from the point of view of arrangement” to further his argument that the painting is “an amalgam of images.”  However, it is by no means certain that Van Gogh was using “arrangement” as a synonym for “composition.” Van Gogh was, in fact, speaking of three paintings, one of which was The Starry Night, when he made this comment: “The olive trees with white cloud and background of mountains, as well as the Moonrise and the Night effect,” as he called it, “these are exaggerations from the point of view of the arrangement, their lines are contorted like those of the ancient woodcuts.” The first two pictures are universally acknowledged to be realistic, non-composite views of their subjects. What the three pictures do have in common is exaggerated color and brushwork of the type that Theo referred to when he criticized Van Gogh for his “search for style [that] takes away the real sentiment of things” in The Starry Night.
4) Physicist Jose Luis Aragon compared the turbulent play of light and dark in such works as “Starry Night” to the mathematical expression of turbulence in such natural occurrences as as whirlpools and air streams. He found they matched very closely. Two other Van Gogh paintings from 1890, WheatField with Crows and Road with Cypress and Star also feature this mathematical parallel. Aragon suggests that since the artist created these particular artworks during periods of extreme mental agitation, Van Gogh was uniquely able to accurately communication that agitation using precise gradations of luminescence.
5) Analysts of “Starry Night” emphasize the symbolism of the stylized cypress tree in the foreground, linking it to death and Van Gogh’s eventual suicide. However, the cypress also represents immortality. In the painting, the tree reaches into the sky, serving as a direct connection between the earth and the heavens. The artist may have been making more of a hopeful statement than many credit him with. This positive interpretation of the cypress symbolism hearkens back to a letter to his brother in which the artist likened death to a train that travels to the stars.