Starry night, a painting as a dream

‘Starry Night’ from Vincent van Gogh. He painted it in 1889, before he got into a major depression. A famous painting.  This Mindfunda looks at ‘Starry Night’ as if it was a dream.

"The sight of the stars makes me dream". Vincent van Gogh wrote this to his brother Theo. And: "I dream of a painting and then I paint my dream".

Mindfunda is invited to Cultura Galerie in the Netherlands to talk about dreams and art. The painting Starry Night of Vincent van Gogh serves as a starting point for artists to make their own interpretation of the painting in the specific style of Vincent van Gogh. Mindfunda invites you to look at the painting as if it depicts a dream of Vincent van Gogh. Like Vincent once wrote to his brother Theo: I dream of a painting, and then I paint my dream”. If Starry Night is a dream, what does that dream tell us about Vincent van Gogh?

Starry night Vincent van Gogh
Starry night Vincent van Gogh, museum of modern art

If you look at the painting you see twelve bright stars in the heavenly sky. The number twelve has a particular significance in human history. Robert Gongloff explains in his book Dream Exploration: “We find twelve in all walks of life, from religion and politics to measurement and mathematics”. He goes on to give examples: twelve arts and sciences are considered essential to spiritual growth by the Rosicrucians, twelve followers of Jesus, Twelve followers of Odin. The list goes on. Twelve is a very religious number and Vincent painted Starry Night in a very religious period of his life. Body, soul mind and spirit are united in the number twelve. It represented the inner peace Vincent was longing for.

Seven stars and the moon are above the first wave. The moon is in its last quarter, the need to let go and make way for a new moon.  The number eight symbolizes things that lay beyond nature. It was a very spiritual time for Vincent. He was searching for meaning, searching for a style, for a way to support himself.

If you look at the colors used you see the color yellow. the Dutch writer Ada de Boer wrote a book “Kleuren in dromen” about the meaning of color in dreams. She tells about the bad reputation the color yellow used to have. “Yellow is seen as the color of Satan and Judas. Outcasts were obliged to wear yellow to be recognized by ordinary citizens”. But luckily, dreaming of yellow can be an encouragement to show yourself more.

The color blue that is very dominant in the painting. Dark blue in dreams is associated with rules, uniforms. Often according to Ada de Boer signifies dark blue an alternative that can not be reached by the dreamer. If you look at Starry Night you can see that dark blue is mixed with black. A symbol of the upcoming depression of Vincent van Gogh.
But there is also light blue in the picture: the church roof is light blue, like religion offers Vincent an escape out of his worldly struggle, out of his feelings of not being appreciated for his talents.

The cypress tree that is quite dominant in the painting is known as the mournful tree. Sacred to the spiritual watchers of other realms. The tree has the shape of an exclamation mark towards the sky. Its color is a nearly black-ish green. In dreams, green is a very positive color. Ada de Boer writes: “Green is the life bringing force, when there is no green left in our dream, our powers of living stop flowing”. And indeed, unfortunately Vincent took his own life almost a year after he painted Starry night.

Here is the invitation to the presentation (in Dutch):

Kunstfestival de Smaak van Van Gogh Ede juli  2015 Lezing over dromen en sterren.

Psychologe en droomdeskundige Susanne van Doorn geeft op zaterdag 11 juli om 15.00 uur in Cultura een lezing over dromen. Robert de Jong geeft vervolgens een lezing over sterren. Deze lezingen zijn in het kader van de expositie ’De aanblik van de sterren laat me dromen’ naar een uitspraak van Vincent van Gogh in één van zijn brieven aan zijn broer Theo.

Geïnspireerd door dit citaat toont Cultura Galerie de sterren van het witte doek zoals Marilyn Monroe. De sterren van het Facebook project Selfie & van Gogh. Hedendaagse kunstenaars tonen in licht objecten, olieverfschilderijen en etsen hun aanblik van de sterren.

Susanne van Doorn gaat in haar lezing in op de betekenis van dromen. Niet alleen de betekenis van dromen voor Vincent van Gogh maar ook voor andere kunstenaars zoals Salvatore Dali. Susanne van Doorn studeerde psychologie in Tilburg en volgde daarna de academie van het Jungiaanse Instituut in Nijmegen. Robert de Jong van de sterrenvereniging Astra Alteria vertelt u over de sterren die we boven ons hoofd zien.

Een interessant uur waarbij u van harte welkom bent.

Lezing De aanblik van de sterren laat me dromen

zaterdag 11 juli 15.00 – 16.00 uur Cultura
Molenstraat 45 6711AW Ede Toegang gratis

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2 thoughts on “Starry night, a painting as a dream”

  1. Thank you for posting and shanirg this image of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night painting.I hope you don’t mind that I have used it on my Starry Night Unit Study page .

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