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The art piece I selected to evaluate in accordance to 3 Gestalt

principles was the famous work Starry Night composition by Vincent

van Gogh. This art piece is a very complex work when analyzing it in
terms of the Gestalt principles. The 3 principles of which I decided to
focus on evaluating in this work were similarity, continuity, and
figure/ground principles.
Gestalt theory states that things which share visual characteristics
such as shape, size, color, texture, or value will be seen as belonging
together in the viewers mind(Gestalt Principles, n.d.). This concept
relates to the gestalt principle of similarity. In analyzing the Starry
night painting, this is one of the first principles I was able to recognize.
The stars share the same vibrant yellow color and circular shape in the
night sky. Their color and shape allows the observer to group together
these circular objects and differentiate the stars and moon from the
blue night sky. In understanding gestalt principles and its effect on art,
evidence provides that similarity or repetition in an image often
[have] connotations of harmony and interrelatedness, or rhythm and
movement(Gestalt Principles, n.d.). Rhythm and fluidity are in fact
noted as two important components that contributed to the aesthetic
beauty of this work; therefore I feel it is important to recognize the
impact of the similarity principle in the Starry Night painting.
The second Gestalt principle I identified within this composition was
continuity. The Gestalt law states that learners tend to continue
shapes beyond their ending points(Gestalt Principles, n.d.). This
concept helps to explain the fact that people follow the direction of an
existing pattern rather than deviate from it. Within the Starry Night
painting the swirling pattern of the sky and the stars represent the
principle of continuity: they are recognized for their ability to direct
the viewers eye around the painting(Starry Night Analysis, 2015).
This principle also helped in fulfilling the composers ideals within the
composition. Van Gogh hoped to create a fluid and powerful night sky,
and I believe this principle indirectly allowed him to do so.
The last Gestalt principle I analyzed and identified within Vincent
Van Goghs, Starry Night painting was the Figure/ground principle.
This principle shows our perceptual tendency to separate whole
figures from their backgrounds based on one or more of a number of
possible variables, such as contrast, color, size, etc (Gestalt
Principles, n.d.). In the painting, Van Gogh uses the highly contrasting
colors of blue and yellow to separate the sky and stars as figures. This
principle is also present in separating the sky from the large dark
cypress tree at the bottom left of the painting. Van Gogh uses vertical
lines for the town and the tree, and therefore creates a separation
between the vertical brush strokes of the ground from the swirling
horizontal brush strokes of the sky.

Gestalt Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from


Starry Night Analysis. (2015, May 07). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from