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January 14, 1974

Van Gogh—Color-Blind?

Author Affiliations

Great Neck, LI, NY

JAMA. 1974;227(2):205. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230150053033

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To the Editor.—  Your cover picture of the Oct 22 issue was Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night," with the comment that "it is probably the emotion rather than a defect in van Gogh's nocturnal vision that results in stars seen as maelstrom turbulences."While there is no doubt of his emotional fervor and artistic genius, the astonishing popularity of van Gogh's color patterns may have been contributed to by color-blindness.I first made this observation when re-examining a candidate for Reconnaissance Air Crew who had been rejected because of color-blindness. He had had a successful career in color photography in London's West End. He told me that the color patterns of van Gogh's pictures were to him the normal coloring he would have painted in similar backgrounds and was surprised that the colors should have been thought unusual or particularly striking. Several other individuals with color-defective vision expressed the same