3 Cool Things (You Might Not Know) About Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

Van Gogh_Starry Night

(Image source / As seen in museum / Corresponding newsletter)

The night sky bursts with energy and light over the quiet village below, an idyllic scene of harmony between humans and nature.

1. Career trajectory: Like most Northern Californians and many of the Millennial generation, van Gogh was on the elusive search for work that is meaningful and useful. "Before becoming a painter, the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) had tried his hand at preaching, teaching and art dealing. Drawn to these vocations by his desire for a life both spiritually fulfilling and socially useful, Van Gogh determined that art alone could provide access to the ideal world he sought" (Janson 912).

2. Universal harmony: The night sky is usually portrayed as being quite still. In contrast, the sky in the painting bursts with with energy and the swirls depict unceasing movement, while the village below is still. Van Gogh left "...behind the Impressionist doctrine of truth to nature in favor of restless feeling and intense color..." (MoMA NY). "Harnessing his expressionistic vocabulary, Van Gogh painted the primitive world and utopia he dreamed of: the peaceful tranquility of simple, unpretentious people, nurtured by nature and in harmony with universal forces" (Janson 916).

3. Cypress trees: "Connecting earth and sky is the flamelike cypress, a tree traditionally associated with graveyards and mourning. But death was not ominous for van Gogh. "Looking at the stars always makes me dream," he said, "Why, I ask myself, shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star." " (MoMA NY). Van Gogh was deeply depressed and committed suicide within a year of this painting (Janson 916). (Tree varieties are surprisingly yet unsurprisingly significant to various cultures - for example, in medieval Japan, pines indicate longevity.)

Bonus: Don McLean and Josh Groban turned this painting into a song "Vincent (Starry Starry Night)."

  • Thanks Rachel for your feedback on the format! (adding dates on the artist and work)
  • Thanks Menno for sending an interesting article that coincidentally showcases Hollywood movies and some of the art that Art Snap has recently covered.
  • Thanks Adam for your detailed feedback on the website format! Look forward to incorporating as much of it as I can gradually.


  • Also, if you're ever at a museum/gallery or reading about art, tag your tweet with #artsnap - will be cool to see your encounters with art!
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All images, videos, and articles are linked to their respective sources. Elements of this post were also drawn from the following:

3 Cool Things (You Might Not Know) About Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory"

Dali_Persistence of Memory

Direct image source

3 Cool Things / Corresponding newsletter

As seen in MoMA NY

Note: I've linked the post directly to the newsletter, right above. I'm experimenting with this new format and would really appreciate your feedback. What do you think? Thanks!

All images, videos, and articles are linked to their respective sources. Elements of this post were also drawn from the following: