Starry Starry Night

I rounded a corner on the fifth floor of the MOMA and low and behold what did I spy with my little eye?  Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.  Blinked my eyes twice and yes it was still there.  Heard a woman ask a proctor “Is this the real thing?”   Yes lady it is.

This painting moves you; it sweeps you up in its staccato paint strokes and deposits you well above this mortal plane.  Vincent Van Gogh is in certain angst, having committed himself to a mental institutional at this time.  He hasn’t sold paintings.  His  failures overwhelm him and he struggles alone with mental illness.  Yet in the middle of this swirl of a breaking mind and heart you get this.  It’s a testament to any of us rising above our crazy mental state and creating something beyond.

“Sometimes moods of indescribable anguish, sometimes moments when the veil of time and fatality of circumstances seemed to be torn apart for an instant.”  Van Gogh’s own words at this time in his life.

I don’t recall too many impressionists trying their hand at night scenes, being mostly obsessed with the light and all. So I am fascinated with this night time landscape which creates so much drama.  This sleepy scene is anything but peaceful.  The stars pulsate, the wind howls and the cypress tree writhes upward from the ground. We are swept into the sky.

Instead of succumbing to this madness however,  I succumb to the beauty.

His paintings along with Picasso’s have garnered the most money.  The last one privately sold for over $90 millon.  He shot himself in the chest and died in 1890.

The Starry Night Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)  Saint Rémy, June 1889. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/4" (73.7 x 92.1 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, MOMA, NewYork

The Starry Night Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890) MOMA, New York


2 Comments on “Starry Starry Night”

  1. SigO says:

    How deranged must you be to shoot yourself in the chest? I mean they poor fella sounds like he was tormented by his own soul or something. Not sure if in that context the night is so beautiful. I get what you are trying to say as well but I just see pain, uncertainty, and darkness on a cold, clear and windy night. Maybe I don’t get it.

    • heatherit says:

      What would be your method of choice? Death by scotch? A little slower perhaps, but still effective. My point is, Van Gogh deals with his anguish by painting. He invites you to witness the “dark night of the soul” with haunting brushstrokes; he catches you in the tension between the deep blue (calm) and golden yellows(energy). That is what I find so beautiful. So. . . I guess you won’t be shelling out the big bucks for this one anytime soon.


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