HomeArticlesBetter Know: The Starry Night | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios Better Know: The Starry Night | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios By Frank Lundy September 27, 2019 Articles, Blog 100 Comments Tags:arles, art, art essay, cezanne, Contemporary Art, eugene boch, Fine Art, gauguin, Gustave Courbet, impressionism, james abbott mcneil whistler, john green, Modern Art, neoimpressionism, night sky, painting, Paris, PBS, pbs digital studios, post impressionism, sarah urist green, seint remy, still life, the art assignment, the starry night, theartassignment, theo van gogh, van gogh, video essay, vincent van gogh Related Posts Pyrotechnic artwork of artist Cai Guo-Qiang: UChicago’s Nuclear Reactions Anniversary How an MS Paint artist made this picture What Is Printmaking? | Introduction By Jyoti Bhatt | DRS Arts Company About Author admin 100 Comments Rocio Ornelas March 31, 2018 whats the name of the song in the background? o.O Reply Amber Spath April 5, 2018 Van Gogh was actually bi Reply Angela Susan Dawn April 11, 2018 Isnt there a theory about him having had glaucoma which is what led to all the swirls ? Reply Kyle McCarthy April 11, 2018 Thank you so much for your insightful analysis. Aaaaaand for the intro to that Don Mclean song. Even better to know it played in Tupac's room while he passed. Powerful stuff. Reply WadjetEye100 April 14, 2018 I always assumed those trees in Starry Night was a weird, black tower/fortress… Oops… Reply Skye Middletonx May 5, 2018 "but, to me Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all. Certainly the most popular, great painter of all time. The most beloved, his command of colour most magnificent.He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world's greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived." Reply Hailstormand May 5, 2018 Oh goodness, this painting continues to captivate me years after I first saw it with young eyes. Reply NYJanus May 7, 2018 I am absolutely obsessed with the Better Know painting series. PLEASE create more of these videos!!!! Reply M G May 8, 2018 Even without watching this video, I knew Van Gogh. He was a childhood favorite artist. His life story is depressing and upsetting. His works including the Starry Night is one of the best and most recognizable works of any artistic era. Reply Deilume May 18, 2018 What is the music in this video? Please, anyone? Reply Mr. Boni May 26, 2018 Girl you are amazing. i am loving the information Reply A. B. Vitalis June 8, 2018 https://blacksheepweekly.com/2018/06/08/standards-of-the-time-an-essay/ I write about Van Gogh and how badly he was judged during his time compared to now. Hope you check it out! Reply Leonardo Suzuki June 17, 2018 How to pronounce Van Gogh: Van GoARGH 😒 Reply Eliana Fernandez July 18, 2018 This was great! I love how your videos remind me I love art and inspire me to get back to it, so thank you! Reply chandler robert August 10, 2018 its not teo is theo Reply Skukkix23 August 20, 2018 Tbh I just think most people never saw a clear night sky without light pollution from a city. Reply st3bx September 16, 2018 Thank you for making this video. It lightened my mood. Such beauty. Reply jasonhowes75 September 19, 2018 Vincent van Gogh was way ahead of his time no one understood him RIP to a great artist his paintings live forever Reply elza ` September 30, 2018 vang ugh Reply Doodle Doodle October 7, 2018 how do you exspect people to watch the whole video when you drop a pizza in there Reply Joel Corriveau October 10, 2018 This is so painfully scripted. I couldn't learn because so many of your "facts" wrong. so many things you missed in his life. and its Theeo, not Tayo. Reply Natzure October 26, 2018 What is the background music? Especially 05:47 Reply A November 14, 2018 The Starry Night was one of the first paintings that left a big impression on me. I saw it from books when I was a kid, and it never left me since. Reply Renëe Renëe November 16, 2018 I teared up Reply LaysnetopArt November 21, 2018 What do you mean by "Kinda Famous". Reply ii_C a r l x December 21, 2018 Van Gogh is pronounced Van-go Reply Carrotsand cucumbers December 21, 2018 That's a great discovery. I like the use of paint Reply oh cool January 3, 2019 every time you said his name, it made me pay more attention :> Reply Jeroniee January 4, 2019 But why do we learn about him in middle school but not anyone else’s? Reply Li January 4, 2019 I know this is completely beside the point, but I love your soundtrack! Could you give us a way to access it? Thanks! I love your videos btw~ Reply John Dunbar January 4, 2019 Great video on "art speak." Reply I'm Okay , January 14, 2019 3:38 that's not the real one, in the real one Van Gogh is smoking a pipe and the whole painting/face is very clear and bright on purpose by Vincent to show that he has recovered in health after the ear-cutting incident. Reply Ginny Williams January 16, 2019 Wish I could watch this, but the narration is much too fast. Reply david henderson January 27, 2019 very well spoken and I thank you for that I aman artist who worships his work love what he done and how he expressed himself he was also a well known pencil artist and his early work many see as dark and gloomy I see as reality as he drew and painted many peoplw working and many many times he depicted a bent back showing the working class as he did with the miners in his earliest work in pencil he chose dark palettes for many landscapes whick I only once again only see reality as he seen it. his impasto style is a hard technigue as he did it ,it consist of control and passion with a very short brush stroke achieving his wonders ,it has taken me a lifetime to conceive it and duplicate it best that I can,amongst all the masters he is the one and only that gets my total attn. and my love. Agiant fan of pbs I watch it daily and applaud you all for your daily content I watch here in Alabama where it is in my hometown of Montgomery where I grew up with it and first painting along my second love Bob Ross for so many years befor acquiring sev. art scholarships by age 11 I now continue my art as a 48 yr. victim of a stroke who lost my painting/drawing hand which is now paralyzes but my love for art pushed me to train my other hand to paint as I continue giving much credit for my life of art to pbs and I thank you more than words can say Reply Diptanu Chaudhuri February 5, 2019 Imagine all the art forms loosing qualitative rationality and becoming completely obscure as modern art. We will be paying $ 20s to sit in a theatre and staring at the two hour long video of a clock showing time. Or reading a novel that has words randomly put and not one single sentence making sense. Or listening to babies crying and calling it music. May be not opening the lid of the camera and calling it photogrqphy. May be only one group of elites will be intellectual enough to understand the true value of those things. The rest of the world and the elite group will have differences of opinion. But thats all ok. Whats not ok is, we all will know that art had died and it will have been killed by pretentious twats. Reply John Castle February 6, 2019 Thinking that he painted what he saw is ridicules ,he used what he saw and exaggerated the essential and left the obvious vague . Reply Huawei P8 February 7, 2019 Bts V was brought me here Reply ROBIN ASHLEY JONES February 7, 2019 his roommate was also a swordsman and the only testimony of him cutting off his ear comes from him which is very suspicious account of events Reply the_mister__x 69 February 11, 2019 NY TAKOE Reply hamfranky February 17, 2019 That's honestly the best pronunciation I've heard van Gogh by a non-Dutch speaker. The only mistake is that the first g shield have the same sounds as the second. Personally I'm fine with people pronouncing it 'Go', it's not close but everyone knows what you're talking about. Reply King expl0si0n murder February 23, 2019 WHAT IS THE MUSIC INTRO Reply nannyalberte March 3, 2019 I am but no means an art expert, but I do love it and find it interesting. So I'm very grateful for this entertaining and fascinating essays! Thank you! I watch them all, I never comment because I do playlists, but just know your hard work is very much appreciated! Reply Daruqe March 12, 2019 Those are trees??? Reply George Carpelan March 16, 2019 Is that a tree? I always thought that was a church?! Reply Caio Miguel March 16, 2019 Van Gogh was a complicated person. He's was a great painter and all, however, he wasn't a good person to be around.I just imagine how many discussions he and gaugin must've had, also he was basicaly taking advantage of théo (his brother) for money (more and more) and spending the money with women (prostitutes), i'm not gonna deny the guy but… well, poor théo. And apparently he gave his cut off ear to a woman (prostitute), I mean "Oh shit". Read Van Gogh: the life by Steven Naifeh. It seems that I have left the impression of practically hate for guy, but no. He suffered since he was born by his mother and diseases. Well, then. That's all I had to say. 😃👌 Reply Devin du Plessis March 18, 2019 The actual way to pronounce his name is ‘fun ggggogggg’ (gggg being the clearing throat sound) so there are 2 of those in his name which is why I just keep it English and say van Go.. Reply Devin du Plessis March 18, 2019 People can be so eager to give definite meaning to abstraction in art. Instead of saying what it means to them, they try give it an absolute meaning. This is incorrect. Reply Tom Bruggeman March 19, 2019 9/10 for pronounciation. Reply vikas malik March 21, 2019 I m sick of the mentioning of the ear in every van goghs video, come on. Dude was tesla of painting or tesla was van gogh of science. They both were hard up, cherished the nature, lonely and geniuses Reply LillyCookies DDAENG March 21, 2019 being Dutch means you can enjoy the stupid ways people say ‘Van Gogh’ because no English speaker can say the ‘n’ or ‘g’ right. Reply David Starovoytov March 26, 2019 he is a sick man Reply andy sheader March 29, 2019 Awesome. Reply edDIE_NOW Right April 6, 2019 Wind moves in a turbulent flow Reply LatinPlayer10 April 13, 2019 I saw this at the MoMA Reply scott gurney April 13, 2019 care factor Reply iLoveELOKIM1 April 19, 2019 mesmerizing… but a bit disappointing that the amazing movie was barely mentioned as it shed new light on perhaps the greatest artist of all times… Reply Research0digo April 20, 2019 McLean came to perform at our San Diego Wild Animal park years ago. I and my then young children were enthralled by his melodies and lyrics, but he wasn't even finished caressing our ears with Starry Starry Night before many of us on that expanse of drying grass were if not sobbing – teary eyed. What an emotion. I wouldn't trade that song for all the Mozarts in the world. Reply Abdullah Sabir April 28, 2019 Who is here after doctor who episode Reply Abeer April 29, 2019 In Arabic language you pronounce his name organically that's because the two languages have letters in common Reply t e e n _ r o s e April 30, 2019 this made my Art exam so easy, and i actually learned quite a lot than what my teacher had told me. you have explained everything in so much detail and simple language 🙂 Reply Ancient Beauty May 1, 2019 Love you Gogh 🌹🌹🌹 Reply Pat W May 2, 2019 You got me subscribed Reply Erick Rodriguez May 12, 2019 Doesn’t she understand imagination Reply Jason Wolfgang May 15, 2019 I heard he hated starry night and also Paul for influencing Vincent’s style during this time as both are very similar- another thing is out of everything I’ve heard it seems like bi-polar is very probable imo as his mood would swing greatly and his on off way with Paul is why he went back and forth between living in Paris and living with Vincent so often. Reply GräfinVonHohenembs May 17, 2019 Amazing video! But I don't believe that suicide has been confirmed. It is also thought that he had gotten shot and, due to his depression, refused to get help and accepted his fate. Reply Erica Buchanan May 17, 2019 I recently watched a vlogbrothers video where John asked what we like, what we want less of and what we want more of. I am an elementary art teacher and I would love to see some more AA videos that could be played at schools. I absolutely love this channel and would love to see an AA that whole schools or classrooms could do, more cooking videos that were just a bit shorter and ones that don’t mention anything sexual (for example Andy Warhol’s foot fetish, just maybe a sub category for elementary levels)? You guys do some pretty amazing things and I wonder daily how on earth you guys juggle it all. Thanks so much for bringing art to the masses. Nerd fighters rule!! Reply Ben Mather June 12, 2019 In my pharmacology class we learned Van Gogh May have suffered digoxin toxicity from foxglove and may have seen green halos around objects which may have inspired some of the color usage in stary nights. Reply Im not mark June 13, 2019 Maybe he just wanted to try something new? Reply Strawberry Milkshake June 13, 2019 I remember the time i played Atlantica Online and most of my online time just hanging around on this outside Van Gogh's dungeon map with The Starry Night as the skybox. It's truly beautiful and this painting is my #1 favorite ever. Reply Heather Johnson`` June 16, 2019 It has become known and gradually accepted by historians that Van Gogh was murdered. As presented in Loving Vincent! Reply James anonymous June 21, 2019 flash card images, female chirping like a magpie ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,worthless bullshit effort. go elsewhere for Vincent ! Reply afatty322 July 12, 2019 I drew this in middle school, I should never have quit drawing…… Reply Max_ TheSauceGod July 13, 2019 As much as I love art video. Art can never be analyzed. It’s simply something you just have to enjoy. Reply Joe Ellis July 14, 2019 So pretty it hurts I hope he knows we love him Reply Hina Khan July 17, 2019 Teachers says paint what you see not what you think but I guess Van paint what he thought not what he sees Reply Jesus Lozada July 21, 2019 Stupid annotation. Reply Giorgi Noniashvili July 21, 2019 brother was obviously on shrooms Reply audacious pert July 22, 2019 I just escaped this world and landed in Van gogh's world in 8mins. Thanks for this video Reply misspinkpunkykat July 27, 2019 My grade school art teacher was OBSESSED with this painting….To the point she ever showed us any other paintings or any other artists. Reply Dante 2812 August 6, 2019 VAN GOGH DIDNT SUICIDE, he was murder by some town boys, I think this makes more sense Reply aeromodeller1 August 10, 2019 This animation claims that Vincent anticipated the mathematical theory of turbulence in his paintings. http://youtu.be/PMerSm2ToFY Not at all. The comments under this video are interesting. The painting itself does not support the thesis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Starry_Night We see little evidence of turbulence in the painting itself. There is not enough vorticity here to even construct a scaled statistic. There are only two vortex like formations in the clouds, yin-yang like figures, and they do not show turbulent decay. Turbulent decay is smaller vortices upon vortices, like smaller fleas upon fleas, ad infinitum. The stars do not represent turbulence. Vincent sought to show the twinkling of the stars. What he got looks more like stars seen through a light mist. He believed the painting was a failure, that the stars were too big. When I first saw this picture I had the same feeling and wondered whether he ever found the trick. Twinkling requires a movie, it can not be represented in a still image. It is interesting that twinkling is the result of turbulent atmospheric density gradients, but this picture does not show that, which is invisible. It has been established that Vincent was in a calm, deliberate, controlled state of mind when he painted all of these supposedly turbulent paintings. He did not paint when he was disturbed. I have always found them to be very calm and peaceful. Wheatfield With Crows depicts a wide open field in bright sun with deep blue sky, waving stalks of yellow wheat, sky full of lively crows and roads leading off to other vistas. Starry Night I compare with Ansel Adams' Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, at the other end of the night, just going to sleep, where Vincent's town is just waking up from a restful sleep. http://www.anseladams.com/ansel-anecdotes/ This is the original article upon which the video is based. 18 October 2006. http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0606246v2.pdf This is an expanded later edition. 29 January 2008: https://people.maths.ox.ac.uk/maini/PKM%20publications/252.pdf The later edition did not fix all the typos in the original. It added a few technical details. The main change is the replacement of Self-portrait with pipe and bandaged ear with Two Peasant Women Digging in Field with Snow. The first was presented as an example of a painting made when Vincent was sane, with the assertion that it does not show the statistical character of turbulence. However, the bandaged ear does not fit well with the nonturbulent hypothesis. The ear was bandaged because either he cut it off in a fit or it was cut off in a fight, depending on which story you accept. The second is presented as another example of a supposedly turbulent painting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbulence Kolmogorov's theory is about the probability distribution of velocity differences in a turbulent moving fluid containing cascades of decaying vorticity. This paper examines the probability of luminosity differences in a fixed painting surface. These have nothing to do with each other except a rough general similarity in the probability distribution. There are many different probability distributions. Many different kinds of phenomena have the same kind of probability distribution. Consider how many phenomena have a Gaussan Normal Distribution, the familiar bell shaped curve. This does not mean these different phenomena have anything to do with each other. Especially since these curves are not a particularly good match; there are systematic differences between them. Small differences in log probability curves like these likely have large significance to the generating mechanism. These curves have nothing to do with turbulence or the appearance of turbulence in the pictures. They have nothing to do with a turbulent state of mind in the artist. This paper is a bad pun. There is no turbulence shown in these paintings. They were not painted when Vincent was experiencing turbulent disturbances. They have no connection with the mathematical theory of turbulence. No measure of apparent image turbulence is proposed and validated. There is no connection between a supposedly turbulent state of mind, turbulence in the image and a Kolmogorov turbulence statistic. These probability distributions are a measure of something. What is it? They are defined as the probability distribution of differences in luminosity between points on the surface of the painting at different distances apart. The luminosity is defined in a way that reduces the painting to a grey scale. (Methodological critique: look at the many representations of Starry Night online. They vary in brightness and contrast. Which is authentic?) Consider some simple examples. Apply this measure to a painting that is black below a center line and white above it. There are only three possible luminosity differences between points. White brighter than black (+1), black darker than white (-1) or both equal (0). Points a small radius apart within either of the top or bottom portion will have 0. Only those pairs with a point on either side of the dividing line will show a difference. So you would expect there to be a very high probability for 0 and very low probabilities for -1 and +1 when the separation is small. Only when the radius of separation is about half the size of the picture rectangle would you expect to see more +1 and -1. In each case, the probability distributions would be three vertical spikes. Now apply that measure to a checkerboard pattern. You would see the first type of distribution for separations up to about the size of the small squares, then the distributions would resemble the latter ones from the first example. As the checkers become smaller, the probability distributions would become more similar at all scales. Eventually they would all show equal likelihood of +1 and -1 with 0 twice as likely as either. Now consider an image with a continuous gradation of tone from pure white to pure black. This will show a very narrow range of differences at small distances, with a high spike near 0 difference, and a broader range of differences at larger separations, with a broader, flatter probability curve. This appears to be a measure of blockyness or gradation. (Interesting that I proposed a similar measure decades ago before images could be digitized. Even more interesting statistics result from correlation coefficients between points.) Vincent was known for his technique of using small spots of uniform color applied with knife or brush. Paintings with a more graded application of density would have a different probability curve. It would be worthwhile to apply this measure to a variety of art works and see how it compares to judgments of image quality. Woodblock prints, line drawings, photographs and other images would show different statistical characteristics. It would be interesting to see whether different artists have characteristic curves. The claim that Vincent saw a mathematical theory of turbulence in cosmology is also bogus. The Hubble telescope image that is compared with Starry Night does not show turbulence. Turbulence initiates at a molecular scale due to diffusion by Brownian movement. Brownian movement is not a significant shaper of cosmological phenomena. In that case, circling motion is more likely of gravitational origin. No evidence was presented in the paper that there is a Kolmogorov probability distribution in this image. The only similarity is the large bright stars. http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2004/10/image/a/format/large_web/ There is another discussion of vorticity in art. Theodore Von Karman, who wrote the equations describing the conditions for vortex stability, wrote in his autobiography and in Aerodynamics, Selected Topics in Light of Their Historical Development (1954) "But I do not claim to have discovered these vortices; they were known long before I was born. The earliest picture in which I have seen them is one in a church in Bologna, Italy, where St. Christopher is shown carrying the child Jesus across a flowing stream. Behind the saint's naked foot the painter indicated alternating vortices." Paintings of St. Christopher were popular, there are many churches in Bologna with such pictures, but none of them show the vortices. Scholars have not been able to locate the picture to which von Karman refers. Leonardo produced many works depicting swirling water, but none I have seen give a proper representation of vorticity. Reply Robert Soriano August 12, 2019 3:32 Benedict Cumberbatch Reply Elisa Neri August 20, 2019 Out of all initial statements, the pizza margherita revelation is the one that made me shout out loud in stupor. Reply angel esmero August 21, 2019 It wasnt suicide but a homicide Reply phaed .tingley August 25, 2019 vincent had seizures, that is the reason his brother got gauguin to come to make sure he was safe physically, vincent tore part of his ear off during one, he gave the shred to a loose lady in town whom he was obsessed with. the starry sky is exactly how epileptics report seeing auras prior to a seizure. Reply Humbug August 26, 2019 4:15 Sorry, no. I've just simulated the night sky in my astronomy software, called Starry Night and from Saint-Remy-de-Provence, on the morning of 23 June 1889, at 4.45 am, the waning crescent Moon is in the correct position with respect to Venus to be a perfect source of inspiration for Van Gogh's painting. Without a doubt, Van Gogh saw this and the painting is correct. Reply Laercio Rocha August 26, 2019 The Best Reply Anton Leimbach August 29, 2019 Great video! Reply I am the Cat Human August 30, 2019 That’s right, I did the jigsaw puzzle. Reply caspermilquetoast411 September 3, 2019 First of all, the world is only as we see it.There is no "as it really is" about it.It exists as we experience it.Second, the Moon is correct in the paintingas the morning before Sunrise would have it,with Venus preceding the Sun, and the Moonoff to the right, high up and crescent. Reply Michael Byrd September 3, 2019 Part of Van Gogh's torture was that he could not get a stable, attractive woman to stick by him.. Loneliness, coupled with self-doubt and a constant feeling of being an outsider and not part of society drove Vincent into the asylum. However, he was an artistic genius able to paint his emotion on canvas. You heard he wanted like minded people to be with him. Reply YassinGhareeb September 4, 2019 Why didn't I born Dutch 💔🌚 Reply Lilllie B. September 5, 2019 possible suicide Reply steve154life September 13, 2019 I Love Vincent's art I haft 6 of hiz paintings /drawings Reply steve154life September 13, 2019 There waz one of hiz painting in Japan, but unfountunily was destroyed during American armed forces during the war. And it burned. Reply Noname Nolast September 14, 2019 definetely on lsd Reply Leopard-King September 16, 2019 There is no peace in The Starry Night. It conveys abject terror akin to The Scream by Edvard Munch. That similar swirling chaotic style is not the observation of stillness. One should shutter to look up at such a sky. It's very telling when a person's normative judgement is hurled several miles from his peers. The peace of an aristocrat is not the peace of a soldier. His sentimentality over nature's serenity is the most revolutionary aspect of his painting, that someone should see quietude in such a menacing scene is almost defiant. If this is Van Gogh's peace, would it even be possible to render his tumult? Reply tKoQ September 20, 2019 It’s true, I’ve done the puzzle 😂 Reply S Hogan September 21, 2019 Sarah Green is my favorite Green, starting back when she was reverently and lovingly named, "the Yeti". Reply MARC LOST September 26, 2019 I like the unnatural pace of this video truncating the breaths and speeding up the delivery. Reply Add a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment:*Name:* Email Address:* Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.