Theory: Starry Night and The Great Wave Are The Same Painting

You know those YouTube videos and Reddit forums where people give all kinds of wacky, questionable theories on films and tv shows – like the serial killer Jigsaw from the Saw films is actually Kevin Macalister from Home Alone….you watch, you lose some brain cells in the process, but its somewhat entertaining…

Well behold! Perhaps this is the start of a new series in this blog

In the 19th century trade began to open up from Japan to Europe. Japanese art made a huge impact on European painting, particularly French painting starting with Manet with the flatness, the color and line work.

Vincent VanGogh was obsessed with Japanese motifs and art styles. He made several reproductions of the Japanese artwork, the woodcuts he and others collected.

About 4 decades before Vincent began his art career, the Japanese artist Hokusai created his 100 Views of Mt. Fuji woodcut series. This series had a huge impact on western art.

Vincent moved to southern France, Arles specifically because he believed it was more similar to Japan and he sought to view it as Japanese…he wanted his own little slice of Japan in France.

So lets check it out

First up is the overall flow and shape of both pieces. You see the wave of Hokusai curling downward to the right and there’s a U shaped curve as the components move from the curl area to the edge of the piece.

In both pieces in the backdrop beyond the curvature of the subject foreground, we have a lower haze area that provides a break between the terrestrial area and the skies.

Further similarities in shape are Mt. Fuji in the background and the mountain and church spire of Starry Night. Next to that we get similar shapes in the foreground wave and the curvature of the lower cypress area.

The manmade components of the boats and the small town are placed in the same spacing of the pieces giving a smallness and fragility to human pursuits. Additionally the rolling haystacks of Starry Night is similarly set with the rolling water and seafoam to the right of the piece. One last leap, let’s do this! – The water droplets coming off the wave are speckled through the sky like stars.

So that’s that. What do you think? Did VanGogh cleverly reinterpret Hokusai’s Wave to suit his own surroundings? Did he paint it and there was a subconscious, Freudian thing going on in his mind, or is this all just incidental?

Thanks for stopping by, if you like this post, please like, sub up, share and get more little bite sized bits of art news and meanderings. To find my art, check out my site, Bumpkin Patch Gallery .And through April, special offer just for readers of this blog, follow the link for the SPRING 20% off discount. Thanks, have a great day and I’ll be right back with another post.

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