Van Gogh found his place in art and produced emotional, visually arresting paintings over the course of a career that lasted only a decade. His 1889 painting of “The Starry Night” has been replicated by artists all around the world, including myself. In high school, I modeled my artistic style with his, as it helped me express my emotional and psychological responses to the world through bold colors and expressive and symbolic images. I was, and still am, a very shy person, and art and writing helps me express myself.
“The Starry Night” is one of the most familiar pieces of art, and has a considerable significance to a lot of people. When I look at it, I am instantly transported into an alternate reality. My anxieties and worries soften for a moment, as my mind sways back and forth with the painting’s brushstrokes. I love the calm night skies, and find a lot of peace in starry nights.
My mind when I see this painting.
Vincent Van Gogh was a famous Impressionist artist. Many people have heard about how Van Gogh was called “crazy” and suffered with mental health issues throughout his life. The story of Van Gogh cutting off his ear after a fight with his friend, the French artist Paul Gauguin, is one of the most popular anecdotes in art history, and supposedly occurred in winter 1888, the year before the painting of Starry Night. Keeping with his reputation as a “crazy” artist, Van Gogh was committed to a mental health asylum in Arles after the ear incident. History has it that Van Gogh painted Starry Night while in the mental hospital, and that the landscape in the painting is the view Van Gogh had from his window. As someone who struggles with mental health issues, I know only know too well the harshness the word “crazy” brings.
There are various interpretations of Starry Night. The one that I identified with is that this canvas depicts hope. It seems that Van Gogh was showing that even with a dark night such as this it is still possible to see light in the windows of the houses. Furthermore, with shining stars filling the sky, there is always a light to guide you. As someone who struggles with mental health issues, I identify with this piece, and find comfort in it’s contoured forms. I feel like Van Gogh’s turbulent quest to overcome his illness is reflected in the dimness of the night sky. This is truly inspiring to me. Knowing the story behind his painting has deepened my appreciation for the piece, and gives me a way to deal with my anxieties. The world may be bleak at times, but there is still good in it. We must never give up hope.