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Wishing on a star...

   
 

Van Gogh at MoMA

   

 

  

 

Nighttime is magic, a place of imagination and fantasy, in MoMA's current exhibition Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night.  The show is intimate, with letters, drawings and paintings culled to explore Van Gogh's fascination with the nocturnal.  Included is the dark and familiar Potato Eaters (1885), as well as The Night Café (1988), and The Starry Night over the Rhone(1988).  In the seminal work and the final painting in the show, The Starry Night (1989), Van Gogh changed the way darkness had ever been painted before--he used rich color and texture to create a vision of night as a time when excitement takes over from the daily mundane-an apocalyptic fevered vision.

Van Gogh was influenced by the nocturnal landscapes of 19th century Barbizon school painters Charles Daubigny and Jules Dupré.  Their influence can be seen in the effets de soir that he took and reinterpreted with bold color and dramatic brushstrokes.  The Starry Night is ablaze with color and texture: bold yellow stars and spiral nebulae shine in a sky of deep blues that range from aquamarine to purple.  Cypress trees shiver against a wild and turbulent sky.  Geometric village houses reflect these colors back: the inhabitants may have turned in, but the night is awake with light and activity.  There is calmness on the earth, but all is in turbulent motion in the sky. It is a landscape of his imagination, partially invented; the spire is reminiscent of Dutch churches.  Night is now a swirling, almost psychedelic play of shape, texture and color. 

Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, "This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise with nothing but the morning star . . . ." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
 

See the Show: Van Gogh at MoMA

Further reading: The Letters of Van Gogh

 

Tags:  art  museums      

 

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