Starry Night, one of Van Gogh’s masterpieces has hung in the Museum of Modern Art in New York since 1941. It has become an iconic image for the western world, Van Gogh though thought otherwise.

How then did Starry Night become so famous?

Painting partly from memory

Van Gogh had committed himself to a the Saint Paul mental asylum after his breakdown, and the cutting off of part of his ear. The painting was done in the day time, in his studio in the ground level of the asylum.

It depicts the view from his bedroom on the first floor, at night. It also has a village that was added in, that Van Gogh felt the painting needed, and the swirls in the night sky are an abstracted idea of the sky, something van Gogh had begun to experiment with when working and living with Paul Gauguin.

Starry Night, a failure

“This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big,” Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, from France.

Two scholars have independently shown, that the star in fact was Venus. Van Gogh’s initial view of the work was of a ‘night study.’ He didn’t actually attribute much worth to it, and went so far as to call it a ‘failure.’

When sending a batch of his latest work to Theo, to save money on the postage he decided to take a few of the works out to make it lighter, Starry Night being one of those works. Theo too was critical about it, accusing van Gogh with giving too much importance to style.

How then did Starry Night become so famous?

Well the best answer to this is obviously we are not always the best judges of our own work. This painting went on to inspire all kinds of works, poetry, songs, writing.

And perhaps it was the elements of abstraction that Van Gogh added, partly because he was not allowed to paint the scene as it was in nature, the shapes and the flow of the sky and how it relates to the ground, creating a oneness that has touched people over the years, and resulted in it being the most popular work at the Museum of Modern Art.

You may also like: The Optimism from the Asylum Room and Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh.  

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    31-08-2016 17:11     Comments ( 0 )
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