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“Why, I say to myself, should the spots of light in the firmament be less accessible to us than the black spots on the map of France?Just as we take the train to go to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to go to a star.” The Starry Night is based on van Gogh’s direct observations as well as his imagination, memories, and emotions.

The whirling forms in the sky, on the other hand, match published astronomical observations of clouds of dust and gas known as nebulae.In 1886, van Gogh moved to Paris, where he encountered the works of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, and the Pointillist compositions of Georges Seurat.Inspired by these artists’ harmonious matching of colors, shorter brushstrokes, and liberal use of paint, he brightened his own palette and loosened his brushwork, emphasizing the physical application of paint on the canvas.At once balanced and expressive, the composition is structured by his ordered placement of the cypress, steeple, and central nebulae, while his countless short brushstrokes and thickly applied paint set its surface in roiling motion.Such a combination of visual contrasts was generated by an artist who found beauty and interest in the night, which, for him, was “much more alive and richly colored than the day.” The virtual, illusionary plane created by the artist, parallel to the physical surface of a two-dimensional work of art; the physical surface of a two-dimensional work of art, e.g. Paints composed of pigments ground to an extremely fine texture in an aqueous solution of gum Arabic or gum tragacanth.

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