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Why Van Gogh's Starry Night Is Expressionist

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Starry Night

Expressionism was considered a movement in fine art, which showed a persons inner experience and feelings, instead of a realistic portrayal of an object. Expressionists tried to depict their subjective emotions and their general responses to objects and events, instead of depicting an objective reality. The artist accomplished these themes in their paintings through distortion, overstatement, primitivism, and imagination. Their paintings often showed flamboyant, jarring, violent, or forceful appliance of formal elements. Expressionist paintings became very popular through the later 19th and 20th centuries, and its quality of spontaneous self-expression is typical in a large range of modern art movements and artists (Paris WebMuseum).

This movement was post-impressionist, and unlike impressionists, they were not interested in the impression they were given by a scene, and did not look to portray the exact reflectance of light in their work. They tried to show their own illustration of the object, and what they felt is a truthful depiction of its real meaning (Fact Monster). One of the most successful and well known artists from this time is Vincent Van Gogh. In Van Gogh's earlier career of painting, he went to Paris where he inadvertently met with Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin. Meeting them started to transform him into more of an impressionist painter. His palate was lightened and he started to use very short brushstrokes, just as the impressionist's did. Because of hardships in his life such as unhappy romances and bad relationships with friends, he fell into fits of madness and lucidity, which lead him to the asylum in Saint-Remy for help (The Vincent Van Gogh Gallery). While in the asylum, he was determined to prove himself equal of his fellow artists, and produced what is known today as one of the best expressionist paintings made, Starry Night.

There are multiple aspects in this painting which intrigue people who view this image. The night sky is filled with swirling clouds, a brilliant cresset moon, and stars afire with luminescence. These clouds are created using short forceful brush strokes of a range of blues followed by very light yellows, giving a light green to teal affect at some parts. Van Gogh actually attributed colors with certain traits. He saw yellow as love or a triumph, cobalt as divine, and green and red as terrible human passions (Van Goh Omni-Gatherum). Sky design keeps the spectators involved with the painting, keeping their eyes moving throughout the swirls and brushstrokes. Under the hills on the horizon lies a small looking quite town. The town seems very peaceful in essence, with imagery of a little farm town painted in dark, cold colors with fiery windows. The center point of the town holds the church steeple which rains over the whole town, showing a sense of size when comparing it with the small houses. Lastly, in the front left hand corner of the painting, there is a large structure resembling a sharp, pointy, fiery black mountain. This gives the painting depth and also helps with perception of size (The Vincent Van Gogh Gallery).

There are many qualities in this painting which make it stand out as an expressionist painting. First and for-most is that fact that it is not a realistic portrayal of a landscape at all. It is said that when he had finished with the painting, he was in a way disappointed with it because it was not realistic enough for him (The Starry Night). It is believed that this painting



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