Starry Night Master Piece Painting In The Tattoo Culture

Starry Night Master Piece Painting In The Tattoo Culture

- in Tattoo History, Tattoo Meanings
Starry Night

One of the most famous and prominent pieces worldwide is the Starry Night oil painting on canvas by “one of the greatest” Vincent van Gogh. The post-impressionist artist created this masterpiece in June of 1889, and it shows the view from a window facing east from his room in the asylum of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. This masterpiece was made right before the rise of the sun and a village in the background. Since 1941, the home for this work of art in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. This piece is considered one of Van Gogh’s most celebrated works, making it an excellent tattoo option. 

The popularity of the Starry Night tattoo is the history of the piece and that it was made by one of the most creative and artistic minds ever. Moreover, it happens to be a beautiful image. That is why if captured correctly by the tattoo artist, it can be a tattoo design that any tattoo enthusiast would be thrilled about for many years to come. 

The Asylum  

Vincent van Gogh famously had a breakdown and chopped off his left ear on December 23, 1888. After this event, Van Gogh voluntarily put himself in the asylum. This appeared almost like a withdrawal for the renowned painter. The Saint Paul de Mausole lunatic asylum was a monastery first and only half full as it catered to the wealthy. Therefore, Van Gogh had two rooms. One to sleep in whiles the other to work on his craft. 

The period in the asylum for Van Gogh was when he put out some of his best work in his collection. Continually pumping out work, Van Gogh finished the blue self-portrait in September of 1889. He ended the Irises in May of that year as well. Then he finished The Starry Night in mid-June. He wrote his brother to let him know that he had a new study of the starry sky he had been looking at. 

This particular moment led to one of the most popular tattoos of recreated art. 

The Painting  

The artist created this work of art in Van Gogh’s ground-floor studio at the asylum. Though the artist painted it downstairs, the painting’s actual view was that from his upstairs room. 

Van Gogh wasn’t permitted to paint in his bedroom. However, he made sketches with ink and charcoal on paper to take to his art studio. Van Gogh portrayed the same view in various weather conditions. This includes moonrise, sunny days, overcast days, sunrise, rainy days, and windy days. The Starry Night painting represents a combination of all elements of the day and night. This piece has 21 versions, and in fifteen of them, cypress trees are visible past the far wall. 

The Starry Night Tattoo Meanings  

Based on who you talk to, The Starry Night tattoo symbolizes different characteristics and meanings. All of the implications resulting from the analysis of the painting and what the colors and structures stand for. Below are some meanings behind the artwork that tattoo lovers can attach to their tattoos. 


If you look at The Starry Night painting, you can see spinning and whirling clouds, stars that shine bright, and a crescent moon that shines bright. The Starry Night painting was stylized and somewhat surreal, and he even acknowledged such in a letter to his brother claiming there were “intensifications in terms of composition.” The picture owns a fluid composition that draws the viewer’s eye around the painting. This makes you feel as if you are connecting the dots. The Starry Night tattoo represents a symbol of being fluid in life or creating flow. To be easy going and go with the flow of life as the eye does in this painting. 

Use of Color  

Van Gogh’s use of color in this painting has been a subject of much debate. According to some, Van Gogh had been suffering from a brain disease or poisoning, which is the reason for the choice of color for the painting. This choice has been seen as strange. The yellow and white color in the sky draws the attention of the eyes to that area. On the other side, the church tower’s vertical lines and the cypress tree break up the composition. 

His use of greens and dark blues was predominant. These dark, rich colors that are being used to portray the night suggest strong emotion. In this sense, The Starry Night tattoo could reflect the tattoo canvas displaying their emotion on their sleeve. 

The Starry Night Tattoo Variations  

The Starry Night tattoo has been portrayed in different versions and designs as tattoos on the body. Below are a couple of arrangements we have seen. 

The Starry Night Sleeve Tattoo  

This version is a popular choice of placement on the body. The painting fits well in this space and almost seems as if you are looking through a window. This is because the shape of the shoulder rounds off at the top, and the sleeve suddenly ends. Since the asylum was previously a monastery, the sleeve gives the feel of the mosaic window, which is a very “monastery” feel. 

Very often, we see this tattoo inked in a full circle. This way of having The Starry Night tattoo inked portrays the symbolism of flow. Since the circle has no ending lines, it is symbolic of what some feel the painting represents, so they fit perfectly. 

Even though we know about different versions of this tattoo, someone that is a fan of van Gogh’s work might be artistic enough to figure out a new way to portray this unique tattoo. 

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