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World behind the text

Van Gogh (post-impressionist painter) painted The Starry Night during his 12-month stay at the
Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, several months after
suffering a breakdown in which he severed a part of his own ear with a razor.

Van Gogh was limited to the subjects that surrounded him—his own likeness, views outside his
studio window, and the surrounding countryside that he could visit with a chaperone. Although
van Gogh’s subjects were restricted, his style was not.

World of the text

Notice the brushstrokes. For the sky they swirl, each dab of color rolling with the clouds around
the stars and moon. On the cypress tree they bend with the curve of the branches. The whole
effect is ethereal and dreamlike. The hills easily roll down into the little village below. In contrast,
the town is straight up and down, done with rigid lines that interrupt the flow of the brushstrokes.
Tiny little trees soften the inflexibility of the town. Bringing nature into the unnaturalness of
buildings.

World before the text (interpretation)

It seems that van Gogh was showing that even with a dark night such as this, it is still possible
to see light in the windows of the houses. Furthermore, with shining stars filling the sky, there is
always light to guide you. It seems that van Gogh was finally being cured of his illness and had
essentially found his heaven. He also knew that in death, he would be at peace and further
portrays this by using bold colors in the Starry Night painting.

External Criticism

Edvard Munch’s Starry Night follows Van Gogh’s Starry, of the same title but different
conception. Compare Munch’s Starry Night to Van Gogh’s nighttime view of the River Rhone,
painted barely five years earlier. Munch cherished darkness, while van Gogh sought out the
reflections of early artificial city lights

Claude Monet’s The Path on the Island of Saint Martin and Van Gogh’s Bridge in the Rain both
portray an outdoor landscape of a wheat field, but are painted in many different and unique
ways. Van Gogh’s work looks as if it was painted wildly and quickly while Monte’s piece is clear
and that he took time to plan each paint stroke and Van Gogh’s piece has a darker, muddy feel
to it because of his technique of manipulating colors. Overall, their works are alike but very
different in the way they capture scenes. Monet strove to capture the essence of a fleeting
moment, such as light, while Van Gogh strove to capture the essence of a particular mood or
emotion.

Internal Criticism

Van Gogh used an impulsive, gestural application of paint and symbolic colors to express
subjective emotions. These methods and practice came to define many subsequent modern
movements from Fauvism to Abstract Expressionism. (Starry Night, Irises, Poppies, The
Bedroom, Sunflowers, The Mulberry Tree, etc).
Figure 2 Starry Night

Figure 3 The Path on the Island of Saint Martin Figure 1 Bridge in the Rain (Van Gogh)
(Claude Monet)

Figure 4 Starry Night (Edvard Munch)