Art Criticism on Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night

Essay by Tekno0420College, UndergraduateA+, December 2002

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Van Gogh's Starry Eyes Brings Out a Starry Night

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night is probably his most famous painting. Instantly recognizable because of its unique style, this work has been the subject of poetry, fiction, CD-ROMs as well as the well known song "Vincent" or "Starry, Starry Night" by Don McLean. Starry Night was painted in the mental asylum of Saint-Remy, 13 months before Van Gogh's death at the age of 37. This exemplary painting was made using oil paints on a canvas with the size of 72cm x 92cm and dates to around June of 1889. There are many visible objects incorporated into this great work of art. The painting includes an 11 star and crescent moon filled night sky, a mountainous background of a small Dutch cityscape with a large building, which appears to be a church. Finally, to the left foreground of the picture is an overpowering dark likeness of what appears to be flames.

The sky also appears to be swirling viscously with wind. Starry Night is currently on exhibit in Atlanta where it has been since 2000.

As I began my formal analysis of this piece of art, I decided that structure and classification are very important. As I began to analyze the painting's structure, I realized that I must mention the element and design principles used. Starry Night uses many elements in its structure such as line, shape, value, color, and texture. The element of line is used in many areas but mostly in the rotating curves in the sky, which show the lines direction and thrust. The element of shape is used throughout the painting. It helps recognize the moon, stars, and a difference between the sky and ground. Starry Night also incorporates value by a difference in the lightness...