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Monthly Masters DiscussionMonthly Masters' Discussion - March 2020 - Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

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Monthly Masters' Discussion - March 2020 - Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

Post by minniev »

Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who became one of the most influential figures in western art history. Van Gogh painted "Starry Night" in 1888, while in a mental asylum in France for recurring and chronic mental illness. He committed suicide the following year, soon after leaving the asylum. Starry Night is probably his most famous painting.

"Starry Night" is based on Van Gogh’s direct observations as well as his imagination, memories, and emotions. “This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big,” wrote Van Gogh to his brother Theo, describing his inspiration for the painting. Much has been speculated about the meanings of the various elements in the painting: the moon, the stars, the looming cypress tree, the church in the distance. Please study the image and read some of the linked information to help you come to your own conclusions, then share your response to “Starry Night”.

Questions to Consider:

Here are some questions to spur your thinking. Answer any or all of them, or simply share your own thoughts.
1. What do you think of the composition of Starry Night? What artistic principles might Van Gogh been using?
2. The color scheme is limited primarily to blues and yellows. Van Gogh once wrote that he was “very sensitive to color and its particular language, its effects of complementaries, contrasts, harmony.” Does this color scheme work for you? Why or why not? If you have a favorite image that is comprised mainly of blues and yellows, you could share it here and tell us why it is a favorite.
3. What is your take on the symbolism of the various elements in the image - the moon, the stars, the cypress, the village, the church?
4. Does Starry Night tell us anything about Van Gogh’s troubled mental state?
5. Is this an artwork that you would want on your wall? Why or why not?
6. Several softwares give us the ability to process a photo with a “Van Gogh” filter. How do you feel about this option? Is it a form of cheating? Is it serious or silly? Have you ever tried it? If so, would you share an image you like that you processed using such an approach.
7. Van Gogh once wrote that he would “Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better.Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see.” Is this equally true of photographers? Share your thoughts about that possibility.

Links for Further Study:
https://www.vangoghgallery.com/painting ... night.html
https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learnin ... ight-1889/
https://artsandculture.google.com/asset ... 3-Pg?hl=en
https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ ... arry-night
fair use: https://www.vangoghgallery.com/painting/starry-night.html
fair use: https://www.vangoghgallery.com/painting/starry-night.html
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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