Object of the Day - Starry Night and the Astronauts


After decades as a representational painter, in her seventies Alma Thomas turned to abstraction, creating shimmering, mosaic-like fields of color with rhythmic dabs of paint that were often inspired by forms from nature. The artist had been fascinated with space exploration since the late 1960s, and her later paintings often referenced America's manned Apollo missions to the moon. 

Starry Night and the Astronauts (1972) evokes the open expanse and celestial patterns of a night sky, but despite its narrative title, the work could also be read as an aerial view of a watery surface, playing with our sense of immersion within an otherwise flat picture plane. 

Medium: Acrylic on canvas 

Art Institute of Chicago