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Starry Night

by Vincent Van Gogh

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Starry Night - Description

The Starry Night is one of the most iconic, most immediately recognizable paintings of the modern era. Vincent van Gogh painted this during is stay at the asylum at Saint Remy, after undergoing a period of mental crises and religious hallucinations. Van Gogh was inspired by old woodcut prints while making this painting, and that influence is clearly seen in the swirling sky, full of light and power, that hovers over the dark and sleeping town. The spire of the church rises up to meet this powerful sky. The brushstrokes magnify this separation between the heavenly and the secular: the sky's wild swoops are contrasted by the town's horizontal and vertical short strokes. A cypress tree in the left of the frame provides a dark counterpoint to the spire of the church. The yellow in the town's windows is picked up by the yellow in the stars and the moon. The green in the town's trees is also echoed in the sky above. Astronomers debate about whether or not the sky is technically correct, i.e., could stars truly have a halo and could the moon ever be so bright. Van Gogh would likely scoff at this debate. His art was moving ever more toward the truly abstract, where form and color and line were distorted to express emotion and inner life. The turbulence shown here was likely the artist's own. Vincent van Gogh was ambivalent about the painting, writing to his brother that he thought it was "nothing at all good." However, later generations couldn't disagree more.

Painting Details

Artwork Name: Starry Night

Original Artist: Salvador Dali
Subject: Landscapes
Style: Post-Impressionism
Medium: 100% Hand-painted on Canvas
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