We all know Van Gogh. He was so much more than the artist who severed his left ear with a razor. Vincent Willem Van Gogh is one of the most famous and influential artists of the western world. With over eight hundred oil paintings and more than two thousand artworks in general; this post-impressionist painter was essential to the foundation of modern art.
Van Gogh according to Neil deGrasse Tyson
“The more of us that feel the universe, the better off we will be in this world” - Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, author and science communicator. Tyson has repeatedly spoken about Vincent Van Gogh with great respect and interest; mostly about the Dutch’s masterpiece “The Starry Night”, an oil on canvas painting depicting Van Gogh’s view from the window of his asylum room before sunrise. “The Starry Night” is housed on the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is one of the most recognized paintings in history.
Tyson’s fascination for Van Gogh’s masterpiece is oriented to the human perception of the universe; through observation, the mind can perceive much more than we are capable to understand or describe with words. Artists like Vincent Van Gogh are able to portray masterpieces like “The Starry Night” and depict the universe through art. On March 18th of 2015, Tyson tweeted “This morning’s Moon is about the same phase & sky position captured by Van Gogh in The Starry Night” amazed by how art and science can work together to bring beauty to this world.
You do not need to suffer from bipolar disorder, clinical depression or any sort problem with your mental health to become a great artist; if you wish to be one, try learning the basics here: How to draw: Tips and advice for beginners to make cool drawings. And don’t stop there, practice your skill with one of our step by step drawing tutorials, like this one: How To Draw Teemo. Step by Step Drawing of League of Legends.
“Creativity is seeing what everyone else sees, but then thinking a new thought that has never been thought before and expressing it somehow. It could be with art, a sculpture, music or even in science. The difference, however, between scientific creativity and any other kind of creativity, is that no matter how long you wait, no one else will ever compose “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony” except for Beethoven. No matter what you do, no one else will paint Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Only Van Gogh could do that because it came from his creativity.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The scientific element of turbulence in Van Gogh's paintings
Tyson is not the only science man interested in the art made by Van Gogh. Many mathematicians and physicists find “The Starry Night” and other pieces of the Dutch painter to be fascinating. The reason for this scientific fascination is something called turbulence.
In fluid dynamics, turbulence is the pattern of fluid in motion with changes in velocity and pressure in said flow. Some of the most iconic paintings made by Van Gogh during a period of his life when he was considered to be under psychotic pressure have been studied by physicists and shown a close correlation between these art pieces and natural turbulence.
Psychosis and its influence on Van Gogh’s paintings
There is no consensus on the Dutch artist’s mental health. Although the painter committed suicide in 1890, there were several possible mental conditions that have been considered to be afflicting Vincent Van Gogh; psychosis, epilepsy, and bipolar disorder just to mention some of them. On letters written by Van Gogh himself during his residence on the asylum at Saint-Rémy, he describes how he suffered of digestive problems, hallucinations, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and other symptoms. What is particularly strange is that Van Gogh was able to paint with proper “turbulence” only under psychotic states, and this is noticeable on his many paintings. When Van Gogh painted “Self portrait with pipe and bandaged ear” he claimed he was calmed and “sane” as he was taking medication after his famous self-mutilation; and this painting shows a different pattern than others (like The Starry Night), there is no turbulence and it doesn’t have the same effect of luminance. There’s no doubt art can bend the boundaries of sanity, perception, and imagination. It’s kind of a tragic and beautiful at the same time how this intense suffering made Van Gogh capable of perceiving and representing one of the most difficult concepts on nature allowing him to portray wonderful pieces with movement, fluidity, and light like no one else in the world. The most turbulent time in Van Gogh’s life mirrored the turbulence of nature itself.