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Sunday, September 18th 2016

11:51 AM

Van Gogh's Transcendent Vision of "The Starry Night".

Van Gogh's Transcendent Vision

'Starry Night' transported the artist beyond an asylum's walls to a landscape summoned by his imagination & by moving this post forwards from 11/9/08 making it's possibilities of being read some more.

Painted in a small cell in an asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, Vincent Van Gogh's magisterial "Starry Night" (1889) is perhaps the most celebrated of the many paintings that chart his compressed and compelling career. The hospital of St. Paul-de-Mausole, at one time a medieval French monastery, offered the Dutch artist a refuge after the crushing disappointments of bleak months spent in nearby Arles. Van Gogh (1853-1890) had been abandoned in Arles by his fellow painter, Paul Gauguin. His ambition of founding a studio in the South of France had collapsed, and with it his dream of a utopian brotherhood of modern painters who shared his belief that art could offer an embodiment of hope amid the drudgeries of modern life.

The intensity of Van Gogh's messianic vision, and the restorative powers he sought, and found, in his painting, underlie the deeply expressive character of many of his late works, especially "Starry Night."

Van Gogh once described the hushed hours of the night as being "more alive and richly colored than the day," and he resolved early on to use vibrant color to capture the depth and stilled poetry of its darkness. A tradition of twilight and nocturnal scenes, well established in 17th-century Netherlandish art, had inspired such dark, earlier Dutch masterpieces as his "Potatoes Eaters," and it resonated as well in the brilliant, gas-lit cafes and moon-lit city streets Van Gogh painted in France. Likewise, the scale and format of many Baroque Northern landscapes -- in which expansive, panoramic skies dwarf the human subject and imbue nature with a profound spiritual significance -- provided a vision of landscape he carried with him to Provence. And in the image of a sweeping, illuminated night sky unleashed across a narrow band of shaded ground, a subject that reaches its plentitude at St.-Remy, Van Gogh created not only a composite memory of his artistic heritage but his own evocation of an "exalting and consoling nature," as he described it, that transcended it as well.

From the barred window of his makeshift studio, Van Gogh had no view of the landscape surrounding the asylum. Uncharacteristically, he summoned his imagination instead, painting an ecstatic vision of the village under a fulgent canopy of stars and a crescent moon. A deep blue backdrop of mountains rises to an undulating crest at right, gathering momentum from the repeated, curved strokes of the painter's brush that measure the tsunami-like swells. These mountains bear little relation to the stony range of the Alpilles that stretched behind St.-Remy, one that Van Gogh had captured in plein air in other views. Nestled at the mountains' base in the painting are tight coils of a paler greenish-blue, which depict an orchard illuminated by the night sky, and these give way to the cadenced geometry of the village. There, with short horizontal and diagonal touches of paint, he traces its solid, rustic forms and tiled roofs, securing them to the writhing landscape with heavy black outlines and tiny squares of yellow light that shine from its windows. Only the graceful, elongated spire of the church at center, more Dutch than Provençal in its profile, breaks with the rugged, foursquare order of the village to cross the distant horizon.

Nature, too, has a transcendent moment within this intense canvas. Van Gogh had often marveled at the "somber and funereal" beauty of the cypress trees that dotted the southern French landscape, and likened their soaring proportions to that of an Egyptian obelisk. And in his "Starry Night" the flame-like contours of a cypress ascend to meet the radiant night sky, mirroring, but in the far more powerful and dynamic forms of nature, the vertical lines of the diminutive church. The deep, bottle-green hue of the tree, achieved with added strokes of brown and midnight blue, and its placement in a foreground that drops precipitously from view give it enormous pictorial presence and meaning. The cypress, a traditional symbol of eternity, and here functioning as both symbol and prophetic form, bars our entrance at left to the landscape, thus drawing us upward to the flattened, frieze-like expanse of the heavens.

Little in his painting, however, prepares us for the fervor of Van Gogh's nocturnal vision as it is unfurled across his swirling, astral sky. With heavily impastoed, rhythmic strokes of citron yellow, a range of opaque blues and a roiling composition of haloed stars, spiraling nebulae and a moon encircled by light, the painter gives emphatic, tactile form to his steadfast belief in a pantheistic nature. A horizontal cascade of silvery-blue light stretches across the far-off mountaintops -- perhaps an image of the Milky Way, perhaps the dawning light of morning, perhaps the path of stars streaking beyond the limits of his canvas and our view -- and it too is painted with palpable conviction. Exultant in itself and in stark contrast to the scale and quietude of the village, Van Gogh's animated constellation finds reflection in the tiny flickers of incandescendent light that emanate from the village windows, humble human reflections of nature's incalculable magnificence but also proof of man's place, and reason for hope, within a cosmic continuum.

In an age of widespread religious doubt, when many painters framed their art in terms of secular truths grounded in a material, visual reality, Van Gogh's discovery of the eternal in nature, and his emphatic transcription of that vision into the tangible forms of his profoundly moving landscape, was in itself a beacon of hope for modern painters.

Ms. Lewis, who writes often about Impressionism, teaches art history at Trinity College.

 vanrijngo:  I would say myself that Vincent van Gogh not only created a composite of his memories in his oeuvre, but in this painting of the Starry Night described the hushed hours of the night as being more alive and with more time to think to himself and to imagine of his artistic goals and how they have been overlooked by his art dealers Theo.  Vincent was always thinking of his own evocation of an exalting and consoling nature as only he could show his viewers and describe to them with his brushes and pens in his works of art and in his letters. Vincent van Gogh was a artist that transcended his total works of art of his own oeuvre and all his missing and lost pieces of art.

The visionary artist that Vincent was, he wanted us all take a better look at these works of art that he was producing. This master piece of "The Starry Night"  to truly evaluate the values and come up with a truer meaning of what exactly this artist was conveying to his viewers in this wonderful metamorphic work of art, he would greatly appreciate even after it proved to coming true as to predicting Vincent's future.
It is still being said today by some just as it has always been said before, how this poor Dutch artist, supposedly a refugee, after many crushing blows and disappointments, ones throughout these bleak years of his life, the few months he had spent in Arles France painting with Gauguin and the year and a half of his artistic career after that was all in vain. Now it's a different story altogether. The MFA experts are now wanting to lower the years of his producing works of art to be between 1882 to 1890, of Vincent van Gogh's short life span of (1853-1890) as to being the extent of his artistic career.  
 There has been many allegations of why this falling out of these two artist's Vincent & Gauguin might have occurred. I'm sure a lot of you had heard the homophobia  thing and possibly even the very sick allegations about a relationship between the two brothers.  All is false my artistic friends.  This is a very sick world we are all living in, and I would haft to also say and mention,... it will not be long before this sickness of this world of ours comes to some sort of an abrupt end.
 They say Vincent's ambition of founding a studio in the South of France had collapsed, and with it his dreams of a utopian brotherhood of modern painters who share his belief that art could offer an embodiment of hope amid the drudgeries of modern life.  Well,... just think about it, what he was trying to do and stop from happening back then.  It is still being done today, only on a grander scale, on the internet, in China, all around this world as I speak, producing the great masterpieces of this world, now in mass productive ways,... for everybody who loves copied works of art to hang right in their own living rooms or any other wall they choose.
 No more of having to go to these expensive museums which are loaded down themselves with copies, and now considered by the MFA experts that most museums and private collections depending on who's and which museums, are around 50% of the art work themselves now being considered fakes.  Now I believe the MFA experts or somebody really has a problem, for until science finally comes into play and is used in the full authentication process, these MFA experts will not be able to tell which are the fakes and which one are not, for you see the MFA experts are the main reasons there are so many fakes floating around in these places to begin with.
You take some of these works of art by different masters and these developed descriptions of certain elements of these artist's works supposedly helping these MFA experts describe these works using their own descriptions.  Most times these descriptions of theirs cause complete loss of total meaning to most of their readers and onlookers of these works of art that they are describing.  Some experts actually find it difficult to understand their own colleagues and what other MFA experts are saying and trying to convey about these supposed fine works of art.
Why the hell don't they just say it like the original artist's meant to say and tell it, say in the artist's own words that is,....  say like Vincent speaking to us all in this painting of the Starry Ass Night, all the while this work of art was mostly coming from his own imagination so to speak,... of what was in his thoughts and of his subconscious mind, what he believed himself happened to be in his own future. 
We all know that Vincent did eventually put a piece of lead into his own body, because we all have been told this by the art experts and historians.  But,... has this fact been about the truths, of what actually had taken place and happened?  I'd personally say not! Yes,... we all are pretty much wondering how history can actually be distorted as much as it has,  and by no means, don't think in your own minds that it isn't a fact that it had actually happened.  In this artist's case there are many who believes that it had in fact happened, except the MFA experts, the exact ones who actually had distorted the truths.
OK,... now that I have probably pissed the majority of you off, let the ones left and still hanging around continue reading what I have to say while having themselves a good look at this painting of Vincent's,... "The Starry ass Night",.... one more time.  Just think in the metamorphism, if you can, of a body of Vincent laying just across the top of these rolling hills done in the white and yellow lines, showing him lying flat on his back.  If you can imagine of being in a hospital or possibly awake or half awake while maybe under the knife of a doctor, you just might understand a little of his meaning of this painting.  Is that you doctor?  Are you going to be able to get that bullet out of me and patched me up before I succumb to the bullet wound and possibly that grim reaper represented by the cypress trees taking me away?  Are your assistants holding these lights close enough for you to see what you are doing? The very top of the church steeple is pointing directly at its position and even spells out the word bullet for you,... just above these two little mounds of these hills just under my body.
I can only believe myself when one does decide to commit an act such as shooting oneself,... I would think it is usually very well thought out before hand, in ones own mind, if perhaps one is planning on just bringing attention for a bullet wound, or if actually trying to ends ones own life.  In Vincent's case I believe he was just trying to bring attention to himself and to be saved by the doctors, or he would not have painted this fact.  He had just made a few errors along the way that allowed him to die and that possibly prevented him from being saved by the doctors.  First off for his supposed bad aim and not knowing where his heart was located and also by making one of the doctors feel threatened himself along with his family,... before committing this act a little later that day. Vincent was also heard mumbling and threatening to shoot himself again if they happen to save him.  The doctors you might say were a little more responsible for his death than Vincent might have been, even with him being the shooter.
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