Vincent van Gogh completed more than 2,100 works in his 37 years on Earth. They ranged from oil paintings to sketches according to what https://www.biography.com/people/vincent-van-gogh-9515695. One of the most recognizable pieces of art in the modern world is van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” If you ask someone who has minimal knowledge about art to name a piece they will most likely mention this 2’5 x 3’5-foot canvas. According to his biography van Gogh made this oil canvas while he resided in the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in 1889 Saint-Remy-de-Provence. Many people speculate that van Gogh created this piece of artwork with a combination of his oil paints, imagination, astounding memory, emotion, and possibly the assistance of the small window in his room at the asylum. Van Gogh admitted himself to the asylum after he cut his ear off and tried giving it to a prostitute in a hotel that resided in southern France. All the things that van Gogh had dealt with throughout his life such as being poor and suffering from at least one mental illness helped him create the role of the starving artist that many others strive to follow. Upon admiring this canvas, you can visualize the thick brush strokes and the unique color contrast and usage, paired with the emotions that you feel when looking at this piece. This being the main portrayal of why there are so many interpretations of “Starry Night.”
Vincent van Gogh’s brush strokes are one of the most observed and discussed elements when someone is analyzing “Starry Night.” He (van Gogh) had many differential styles which is something that many would notice if they looked at some of his other works such as his self-portraits, “Bedroom in Arles,” and “Poppy Flowers.” In “Starry Night” his brush strokes were thick and prominent which added a sense of depth to the canvas that most people notice in some of their first glances of the piece. The way van Gogh painted the clouds, stars, and moon in perfect circles was so unusual for this period. Many people painted stars in a fine triangle form, but this is one of the things that make this canvas so unique since van Gogh gave the painting a sense of motion and a consistent look. I believe that van Gogh’s thick brush strokes were a sign of his declining mental health as they are similar to the strokes seen in some of his other works before he committed suicide. His brush strokes give a sense of drama which helps people form their interpretations of “Starry Night.”
Along with Vincent van Gogh’s thick brush strokes, another visual element that is observed are his use of unique colors and how they contrast each other while balancing the overall composition of the canvas altogether. Most artists would have used a dull white to paint the stars while van Gogh used a bright yellow, helping them appear to be vividly shining against the darkness of the night sky. As he paints, his vision is to display all of the lights in the sky while the village is dark and peaceful looking. I believe this represents how dark the world would be without light. Van Gogh used dark blues and greens that helped make a mint green contrast around the moon showing its bright reflection. The buildings were painted with yellow, orange, green, and even a speck of red if you look to the left of the church. The cypress tree is dark and focuses your attention on this aspect since the color is such a drastic turn from the others. Many believe that the cypress tree represented how van Gogh felt about death and how close he was to it. Though he was not looking forward to dying, he had accepted the idea that everyone, including himself, would die and he came to terms with it.
Looking at “Starry Night” there are many different things one may feel, and it all depends on how you interpret the painting. Raphaela Dowding-Green helped me a lot because I was stuck on my interpretation and wasn’t able to see how anyone else could see this masterpiece. In his “Starry Night” painting van Gogh could have been merely painting the night sky as some say, but I believe his painting holds a much deeper meaning. I believe this painting is a symbol of hope, while others may find that it holds a different meaning to them such as the inevitably of death. It may also potentially hold a religious meaning to some. Many of his other art forms such as the Cypress trees he painted or sketched were not always similar. In “Wheatfield with Cypresses,” van Gogh changes directions and the cypresses were much brighter and painted in a day setting. Even with this drastic color change, many still believe that the cypress tree represented how van Gogh felt about death. Van Gogh came from a religious background with a religious uncle who was a theologian (someone who engages or is an expert in theology). In the painting, the moon and stars in the night sky are surrounded by the brightly lit stars while the church steeple stands out above the less detailed structures in the village. With the helpful words of Raphaela Dowding-Green, I think that Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” can be summarized giving off a powerful feeling of hope through the shining lights of the stars that glisten over the landscape that is partially consumed by the darkness of the night. With this being such a well-known art piece, it is not surprising how many different interpretations can be discovered.
In conclusion, it can be seen on the topmost layer that van Gogh was a lover of the night and saw art where others saw a pure a night sky. Looking at the painting, you can see that this piece isn’t just a simple night time painting. Even with all the different interpretations of this painting, in every one of them it is not solely about the darkness, but also about the light and how they bring balance to one another. You cannot have light without dark and vice versa. While we do not know what van Gogh’s accurate interpretation was. What we do know that through his thick brush strokes, the unique color contrast and usage, paired with the emotions that you feel when looking at this piece, it is something that can be made into a unique in-depth interpretation rather than just reaching the surface.

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