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Compare Contrast Starry Night and Water Lilies

Essay by   •  March 5, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,366 Words (6 Pages)  •  4,778 Views

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Sara White

Art 1304

Compare Contrast Starry Night and Water Lilies

        For this paper, I chose to compare and contrast Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night with Oscar Claude Monet’s Water Lilies.  I personally, find both pieces to be beautiful and found evaluating their relationship to one another to be interesting as well.  

        Vincent van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland in 1853.  He was born into an artistic family and taught himself to draw.  He struggled with mental health and was virtually poor his entire life.  He was a deeply troubled, post-impressionist artist and his painting Starry Night is his most famous piece.  He painted this piece while undergoing treatment at an insane asylum in Southern France.  He is known for his bright color paintings and his impressionist style.  Although he only sold one painting in his life, the legacy of his work is enormous.  Van Gogh attempted suicide on July 27, 1890 and died two days later.  Oscar Claude Monet was born November 14, 1840 in Paris, France.  He had a great love for art at an early age as well as a love for the outdoors.    Like Van Gogh, Monet also suffered from depression and self-doubt.  Monet was said to have destroyed over 500 paintings in doubt of his artistic capabilities.  He was also an impressionist and transformed French painting in the second half of the nineteenth century.  Monet began painting Water Lilies in 1899 which was inspired by his water lily pond at his home.  The series occupied twenty years of his life.  He passed away of lung cancer December 5, 1926 at the age of 86.  

        Starry Night is one of the most popular and well known of modern culture oil on canvas paintings.  The approximate size of the painting is 29”x36” and can be categorized as modern art.   The painting can be found in the New York Museum of Modern Art.  The painting keeps the viewers eye moving along the image in order to grasp the entire print.  The first thing you notice are the stars in the sky.  The painting has eleven fireball yellow stars that connect across the big swirly, rolling blue and grey clouds in the night sky.  There is a large orange, yellow crescent moon in the upper right corner offset by a tail, spiraling, deep green cypress tree in the lower left area.  Below is the night sky filled with swirling clouds and below the tumbling hills lies a small town.  There is a large steeple church in the town that dominates the small town setting.  There is a massive dark structure to the left of the painting that creates the sensation of isolation.  The structure is without comparison to the other small buildings.  The painting is meant to be in a nighttime setting, however Van Gogh uses the moon and stars to provide light.  Although the painting is exaggerated, we can all relate to it.  The artist is able to give the painting a realistic look.  

         Water Lilies is a series of 250 paintings that are part of an impressionist series that depict Monet’s flower garden at Giverny.   These gardens were the main focus of his artistic inspiration for the last thirty years of his life.  He attempted to capture every impression, observation and reflection of the flowers on the water.  The painting is oil on canvas, two dimensional form and approximately 38 1/8 x 38 ¾.  The painting shows water lilies in a pond.  There are more water lilies in the distance than what appear to be in the front.  The water and water lilies are painted with unsmooth and spotted paint strokes with a variety of colors.  The water surrounding the water lilies highlights them by incorporating areas of light to create depth as needed.  There is space between the water lilies to create distance.  The light in the center of the painting leads the viewer’s eye up to view the larger clusters of lilies.  The color of the water lilies is what makes this painting beautiful.  The various colors allow for depth and reflection of light.  The water is a pale lavender to dark and mossy browns and greens.  The lilies are composed of every shade of green imaginable, yellows, blues, browns and even pinks.  The flowers on the lilies are composed of red, pink, white, brown and grey.  It almost appears as the sky is reflecting onto the water.  

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