Visual Arts27 Sep 2010 03:50 pm
Vincent Van Gogh painted “Starry Night” during one of the most difficult periods of his life. This is truly saying something. The unchallenged Job of art history, Van Gogh’s life was no pink cupcake with too much icing and stupid sprinkles. But severed earlobes and broken bromances with Paul Gaughin aside, his brightly colored and gorgeously textured paintings convey a kinetic joy and energy unrivaled by any other artist, living or dead.
Van Gogh battled a host of physical and mental ailments, including (but not limited to) incurable/madness-inducing venereal disease, debilitating anxiety attacks and frequent and severe bouts of mental illness that landed him in insane asylums on several occasions. He died (cause: self-inflicted gun shot wound) at the tender age of 37, having sold a grand total of ONE painting during his lifetime, and believing himself to be a failure.
But I digress. The troubled artist painted “Starry Night” during one of his many stints at a mental hospital at Saint Remy. Locked inside the asylum and yearning to go outside, the despondent artist decided to improve the feng shui of his new bedroom by decorating the walls with some DIY paintings. Remarkably, Van Gogh painted the scene entirely from memory, as he was not permitted to venture outside of the white walls of the asylum.
Van Gogh’s personal papers and correspondences seem to suggest that he didn’t seem to think much of “Starry Night” after he had completed it (he mentioned it only twice in his letters to his brother Theo). I guess that even artistic geniuses sometimes miss the masterpieces that are staring them in the face….
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