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.