This dizzying Van Gogh optical illusion is making me see stars

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night is one of the world's most famous paintings, but did you know it can move? Internet scamps have found a way to trick your brain into thinking the swirling night sky of this famous impressionism painting is actually in motion. 

I'll explain why the Van Gogh painting spins below, but first stare at the swirling image for ten seconds, then at the Van Gogh painting and see what happens. This dizzying optical illusion is one of my favourites, and if you like this one take a look at this trippy optical illusion of spinning dots that has a similar effect.

Optical illusion of a Starry Night by Van Gogh

(Image credit: Art by Van Gogh)

Why is everything moving? Here's the science bit, as they used to say in the '90s: your eyes are working hard to make sense of the swirling black and white image, trying to fixate on the small white dot. They are being trained to compensate, and when you look away at a similar but static pattern they overreact.

This is a standard optical illusion and happens all the time, you can find more like this in our feature of the 20 must-see optical illusions, but none of them compare to the dizzying horse optical illusion that has us constantly stumped.

Starry Night is a perfect use of the spinning space optical illusion, and the artist was infamously addicted to anise-flavoured spirit absinthe as well as prescribed medication – did he know about this optical illusion when he painted this and other landscapes?

If you're keen to try and create your own painterly optical illusion then take a look at our simple tips for painting beautiful skies or go digital with our tutorial: how to create a digital oil painting using ArtRage

Read more:

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & 3D

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & 3D at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.