The Starry Night
Starry Night was an oil canvas painting that was painted by Vincent Van Gogh in June 1889. In the year of 1853 Vincent Van Gogh was born on March 30. “Van Gogh, the eldest of six children of a Protestant pastor, was born and reared in a small village in the Brabant region of the southern Netherlands. He was a self-contained youth, spending his free time wandering the countryside to observe nature” (The Editiors of Encyclopedia Britannica). Vincent Van Gogh’s art was a major influence of twentieth century art. His work spoke true of feeling, excellence, and vibrant colors that people of that time period were not used to so they shunned his work. During his lifetime Van Gogh battled with psychological problems. He was poor most of his adult life. On July 29, 1890, Van Gogh was said to have been shot in the stomach in his room. About two days later before dying it was said that he had shot himself, committing suicide. Van Gogh’s work is considered to be “Post-Impressionist. Vincent Van Gogh was known for using broad paint strokes and vibrant color swirling technique with his paintings. “Post-Impressionist, like Van Gogh contributed to the art world because he abandoned the traditional style of realistic art that came before him” (Sari). Van Gogh used new strategies from previous post impressionist artist and created his own unique style. This created controversy between people who preferred and were more used to traditional art. Between the years of 1886 and 1905, it was predominantly a French art movement also known as the Post-Impressionism era.
In Saint-Rémy, France of 1889 in the asylum, Vincent Van Gogh painted Starry Night which happened to be thirteen months before his suicidal death. In a letter, he wrote to his brother Theo, “This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.” “The night sky depicted by van Gogh in the Starry Night painting is brimming with whirling clouds, shining stars, and a bright crescent moon” (Van Gogh). Van Gogh had had the subject of a blue night sky dotted with yellow stars in mind for many months before he painted the Starry Night” (Paulson).Van Gogh used a combination of his memory from the night of looking at the sky, his feeling of it, and his perception of how he viewed it and expressed it on his oil canvas. He painted a whirling and swirling sky with navy blue colors and yellows that depicted stars over a town with a cypress tree that was towards the front of the painting. It is believed to be that the cypress tree symbolized death because cypress trees are commonly found in commentaries and is “typically associated with mourning” (Johnson). The tree is also said to be a connection with the Earth and the sky meaning that his depression was causing him to lean towards suicide. The swirls used in the sky look never ending as they all lead to the bright yellow moon. The original painting has a home at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York.
When assessing pieces of art, one most consider the Elements of Art which is also like thinking about the Principles of Art. The Elements of Art is described as a collection of aspects that are used to assess a piece of artwork. The Starry Night is a great piece to use as an example when assessing The Elements. The Starry Night uses the elements of: line, form, shape, color, texture, space, and value.
The first element assessed will be line. A line is a never ending mark used in art by any marking utensil. Lines are supposed to move your eyes through the piece of art without stopping, or until it comes to an end. In the Starry Night, the lines used as an example are the swirls that make up the sky. The swirls look almost never ending as they lead up to the moon which captures your eye.
The element form is usually three-dimensional and uses volume, as an example, blocks, circles, and cylinders are different structures that would encase volume. Unfortunately, the Starry Night does not obtain any examples of form since everything painted is in two-dimensional, but the hills in the background offer some sort of roundness.
Shape is any object used in art rather it be two-dimensional, three-dimensional, or four-dimensional. The shapes used in this piece of art would be a circle. There are eleven stars in the sky whose swirls end up creating a circle which is the main component of this piece hence the name, Starry Night.
The colors that were used for this painting can be described as bright and vibrant. The sky is navy blue mixed with a lighter blue and they create the swirl effect in the picture. The stars and the moon that sits in the corner are a bright yellow mixed with a little white and also create somewhat of a blurred swirl. Artists, like Vincent Van Gogh, “use color to add emotion and meaning to a work of art. It can help create balance, harmony, contrast and rhythm in a painting” (Chardonnet). This paintings is made mostly of cool colors, like the blues, and the more extreme color use would be the yellow.
Texture is also used in this painting. Texture is the hardness, roughness or smoothness of a piece of art or it can be how the object appears to feel. From research, many people have not been able to feel the Starry Night due to the security and protection placed for that painting.
Another element to be assessed would be space. Space is the area that is around, above or inside objects in art. Since this piece is in two-dimensional, the space would be deception. Nothing in the Starry Night looks unbalanced by any means so that means that Vincent Van Gogh effectively used space. Some tricks that an artist would use for space would be overlapping the objects in the painting or a use of drawing perspective which can trick the eye to see a different form.
The last element to be assessed would be value. Value, in art, is how light or dark tones or colors are. In the Starry Night, the main colors used are the blues and the yellows. The blues that are used go from light blue to a dark/navy blue with the bright yellow also mixed with white used to create the sky which would give off a less realistic look.”The moon and the dull shrubbery are both voids in value, influencing them to look less realistic” (Shabi).
I chose the Starry Night for this painting because it has been my favorite painting since I was in elementary school which was when I was first introduced to it in an art class. I fell in love with the pretty swirls he used in the sky because it was not like any other traditional painting. Vincent Van Gogh’s use of the bright yellow brightened up the whole picture and Brough light to the night sky which was always so eye catching. The most capturing aspect of this painting to me would be how the swirls are directed to the biggest and brightest part of the painting which would be the moon. Another thing I admire about the painting would be the scenery. The hills in the background give a sense of peace and comfort to me as they surround the village. The Starry Night really brings back memories from my childhood because I will never forget what I first saw it back in elementary and since then it has been my all time favorite piece of art. Since taking this online course and learning about the elements and components of art I was able to put them to use while being able to assess the painting in a more artistic way which helped me understand the painting with much more detail.
The Starry Night