I took an Art History class during my last semester of college. I never really studied art before and I had room in my schedule for it. Starry Night was one of the works that we studied and the backstory to this painting truly touched me.
The painter, Vincent van Gogh, battled with depression throughout his life and never could connect with the people around him. Van Gogh had intense emotional feelings and dared to be an independent thinker. He was a self-taught painter and did not get the recognition he deserved until after he died. His works are very honest, personal, emotional, and bold. About a year before he committed suicide, Van Gogh painted Starry Night from the window of the asylum where he had committed himself. The sky is turbulent and full of cosmic energy as the sun is just beginning to rise on the horizon line. The cyprus tree on the left is deliberately painted out of scale and it signifies death. But, death is not portrayed as a bad or scary thing here. The tree is linking Earth and Heaven, showing that there is a journey after death. And the final destination is a star.
I always thought this painting was beautiful, but now it’s my favorite painting of all time. If this is what insanity looks like, then I hope to never be sane. I also believe that death is not the end of a soul’s journey, but just the beginning. Van Gogh’s visual representation of that journey is genius. I now imagine him painting among the stars, free from the pain he had to endure on Earth. Art was his escape from reality. And I’m thankful he was able to share that gorgeous escape with the world.