A Starry Night – Thro’ the eyes of a commoner.
Though its been more than 7 years since my first encounter with this painting, I still didn’t understand exactly why this painting is so alluring and cryptic. I’ve admired Van Gogh’s works a lot through these years but 'A Starry Night' is really special. As a person who loved the night and the stars so dearly, this masterpiece is a must wall hanging in my study desk.
Having no art background, I had to do a little research on articles by art historians about this painting. What style is it? Under what circumstances was this painted?... About the artist, and many more. It really was surprising, how the painting was analyzed and given meaning. I’ll tell you why it was surprising after I finish explaining the questions stated above.
It is a Post impressionist modern art (i.e) the artist focuses more on bringing out the emotion of the painting than the realistic part of it. It was in the late 1880s this style started developing. So Vincent Van Gogh whose artistic life is known from his letters to his brother Theo and other artists of his age, was an ambitious artist who in the beginning of his career got into arguments with his fellow artists critiquing their work. I’ll restrain myself from talking about the artist because, his life through letters is something I would like to write separately.
Coming back to the painting, It was painted when Van Gogh was in an asylum in the countryside to the south of France. An early morning view of the village through the window of his room in the asylum. The components of the painting – the Cypress tree, the Venus and other Stars, The crescent Moon, The hills of the Alpilles mountains and the buildings of the village. Vincent’s choice of colors for this painting has a great contribution to the emotion the painting depicts.
So why was I surprised when I read what the experts in the field wrote about the painting? I felt that they described the painting only by symbolizing the components of the painting. A description considering that the artist was in an asylum, the Cypress tree symbolizing death in some country and the Yellow dominance denoting his mental illness. Yes, he sure was ill but I don’t think that these should be the reason to compare this painting to death and depression.
For the first time I saw this painting it was the sky with the whirl of clouds that caught my attention. An exaggerated depiction of a silent morning sky. Then, the crescent moon, the brightest part of the painting. Coming towards the left is the upright giant Cypress tree in different shades of green, brown and black. The bottom part of the painting is the rows of buildings in the village which is quiet and peaceful. So the entire painting gives you a sight of a dreamlike sky on a breezy and placid early morning. The bright yellow strokes brightens the painting and brings an ethereal look to it.
Anyone who loves the color blue or the stars will definitely love this painting without the description. The first hand experience of a commoner who sees this painting will for sure be surreal but will also be ecstatic and peaceful. I surely would recommend not reading the facts and descriptions of paintings if you only want to enjoy it.
(Image courtesy: Wikipedia)