Vincent Van Gogh died having sold just one painting during his lifetime. He committed suicide with little recognition of his life’s work, and we’re only just beginning to realize what a true genius he really was.
His famous 1889 painting, “The Starry Night” — where light and clouds flow in turbulent swirls on the night sky, is something that everyone has seen, with his beautiful use of flowing light absolutely hypnotic.
But many have no idea that the artist painted “The Starry Night” in an insane asylum in France – he’d admitted himself after cutting off a piece of his own ear during a psychotic episode suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, something that can cause hallucinations along with feelings of inspiration and fascination.
Many believe that Van Gogh’s psychosis may have inspired the beautifully turbulent nature of this work.
Fascinatingly, scientists discovered something rather extraordinary about his paintings he created that only occurred during that psychotic period of his life.
When analyzing telescope images and the natural flow of light in and around the stars, they were struck by how similar it was to the flow of light in “The Starry Night.” Something more complex and mysterious was that striking similarity, however.
After detailed analysis, the scientists were led to believe that Van Gogh unknowingly mastered one of the most enigmatic concepts in physical science: fluid turbulence.
They believe that Van Gogh’s psychosis allowed him to perceive relationships in motion that the normal, healthy brain doesn’t have access to.
Find out more in the footage below: The unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.