In terms of historical context, van Gogh made
the rare act of cutting his own ear in 1889. Since then, it has been said that
he felt into a depression that would follow him for the rest of his life. So
when it comes to the subject matter of Starry
Night, previous analysis has gotten to the conclusion that this painting
works as a portrait of the view of van Gogh’s window towards Saint-Remy, which
was the city where he used to fight his emotional pain while continuing to
portray art. That’s why we can interpret through the image of the painting a
starry night and a bright crescent moon, overlooking a town.
When it comes to the color of the painting, we
can appreciate how van Gogh’s use of white and yellow makes a visual impact and
attracts attention regarding the sky. His election of dark blues and greens
were supplemented with touches of mint green demonstrating the impression of
the moon. It is believed that van Gogh was suffering from a brain disease,
which lead him to choose strange and peculiar colors in his last paintings.
The technique that he applied to these dense
colors was to use strong, expressive brushstrokes that were attached to a
complex composition in order to create a perception of distance. If you pay
close attention, it is incredible how he was able to separate the sky from the
earth. In terms of unity, van Gogh looks like he was really concerned about this
element. The brush strokes in combination with the colors have the purpose of
unifying the surface to create the sensation that everything belongs together.
For this painting, van Gogh used the method of
applying paint on canvas, which is called “impasto” in Italian. This term means
“mixture” in English. The bright color and thickly layer textures make the
trees, buildings and drifting moon to seem alive. Therefore, he applies a rough
texture to portray a painting that would be emotionally active for the audience.
From van Gogh’s point of view, he saw
this painting as a source to show emotions. Many believe that the night sky
reflect his quest to overcome sickness, and that his view towards the village
creates a sense of comfort. While the purpose of this painting would be to
communicate that the nighttime is not just plain darkness, it can be sometimes
so illuminated that it might contain a message of hope or simply give a good