The story of the technical challenges behind "The Starry Night" and other nocturnal scenes, indoors and out, is the subject of a small, very beautiful exhibition on view at the Museum of Modern Art.
"Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night" features just 23 paintings and 10 works on paper by the tortured Dutch genius, as well as excerpts from his letters and the poetry and literature that inspired him. The show begins with early paintings from around 1880, when van Gogh, who started painting at the relatively late age of 27, was still living in the Netherlands. The landscapes are flat, the colors muted, the mood somber. It was only after his exposure in Paris to the brilliant canvases of the impressionists that van Gogh adopted the vibrant palette and thick, rhythmic brushstrokes that marked his later style.
The show closes at MoMA on Jan. 5, then travels to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where it will be on view from Feb. 13-June 7. The MoMA Web site includes all the works featured in the exhibition, plus an audio program and explanatory text.