Description of this painting
Widely acclaimed as Vincent Van Gogh's masterpiece, the painting depicts the view from his sanatorium window at night, although it was actually painted from memory during the day.
"Looking at the stars always makes me dream," he said, "Why, I wonder, shouldn't the bright spots in the sky be as accessible as the black spots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to Tarascon or Rouen, it takes death to reach a star."
The artist wrote to his brother of his almost momentous experience: "This morning I saw the countryside from my window long before dawn, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very large." This morning star, or Venus, may be the large white star to the left of center in The Starry Night. The village, on the other hand, is invented, and the church tower evokes Van Gogh's homeland, the Netherlands.
The painting, like its daytime companion, Los Olivos, is rooted in imagination and memory. Van Gogh made his work a symbol for all expressionist painting to come.
In a 2014 TED talk, scientific research associate Natalya St. Clair explained how motion in the painting hinted at an extremely complicated mathematical concept called turbulent flow decades before scientists discovered it.
In 2004, using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists saw a distant cloud of dust and gas swirl around a star, and it reminded them of Van Gogh's "Starry Night." That prompted scientists to study the paintings of Van Gogh in detail and when they did, they discovered that there is a distinctive pattern of turbulent fluid structures hidden in many of the artist's paintings.
The Starry Night is ranked no. 2 on the list of famous paintings
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