Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) painted his famous The Starry Night (1889) from memory while a patient at the asylum that he called a "veritable monastery" in Saint-Rémy, Provence.
"The night is more alive and more richly colored than the day," he once said. "Looking at the stars always makes me dream."
The painting, one of the most popular at New York's Museum of Modern Art, opened the path for a new emotionalism in art. The stunning masterpiece was created at a time of personal crisis for Van Gogh and captured memories of the artist's childhood village, with 11 magnificent, magnified stars and the brilliant orange moon. Rings of light and halos, shimmered the heavens with mystical passion.
"As we advanced in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed," Van Gogh said.
With bright, bold strokes and paint piled so thickly (impasto) that the marks stand above the canvas, Van Gogh integrated life-celebrating spirals into the highly-charged painting. "I am not conscious of myself any more, and the pictures come to me as if in a dream."
He worked quickly, brushwork swirling with a turbulent rhythm that celebrated nature's vibrations and expressive forces. He completed 70 paintings in 70 days, leaving a total glorious legacy of over 800 oils.
"The laws of color," he observed, "are unutterably beautiful, just because they are not accidental."
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