Art for autumn: Van Gogh painting is made of pumpkins, watermelons and squash
Art for autumn: Van Gogh painting is made of pumpkins, watermelons and squash Stan Herd created a giant replica of "Olive Trees" that covers more than an acre of land. (Minneapolis Institute of Art)
Art for autumn: Van Gogh painting is made of pumpkins, watermelons and squash
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If you're flying through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this fall, keep an eye out for Vincent van Gogh's "Olive Trees" from your airplane window. It won't be hard to miss - this aerial crop art covers more than an acre of land.

Van Gogh painted "Olive Trees" in 1889. It was one of many paintings he created featuring olive trees as a subject; he painted 15 alone between June and December of 1889. The one seen on the field is part of the collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minnesota. The strong hues of yellow in the painting would suggest that the picture represents the olive trees in the autumn months. Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, about using the trees as a subject, saying that he struggled to "catch (the olive trees). They are old silver, sometimes with more blue in them, sometimes greenish, bronzed, fading white above a soil which is yellow, pink, violet tinted orange...very difficult."

The unique ode to van Gogh is the work of landscape artist Stan Herd, reports Mary Abbe for the Star Tribune. It was commissioned to honor two milestones: the Minneapolis Institute of Art's centennial and the 125th anniversary of van Gogh's death. "It's an iteration of van Gogh's painting writ large in native plants and materials," Herd tells Abbe. "The opportunity to engage with one of my favorite artists in the world was pretty unique for me."

It took Herd six months of digging and planting to recreate van Gogh's 1889 painting, which is currently on display at the MIA. To mimic the artist's iconic brushwork, Herd grew patches of pumpkins, squash, watermelons and cantaloupes while arranging mulch, rocks and soil to create darker lines, according to Nick Mafi at Architectural Digest.

Herd first started making crop art, which he calls "earthworks," in 1981. His first project was a 160-acre portrait of the Kiowa chief Satanta and in the decades since, he has created dozens of larger-than-life pieces around the world.

Though "Olive Trees" will be on display through the fall, Herd plans to mow it down in concentric circles to mimic van Gogh's brushstrokes, Christopher Jobson reports for Colossal

Stan Herd, Of Us and Art: The 100 Videos Project, Episode 30 from Minneapolis Institute of Art on Vimeo.

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Why did Stan Herd use pumpkins, watermelons and squash instead of something else?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • erind-day
    10/30/2015 - 10:44 p.m.

    I have a great appreciation for all the work this farmer does to create this land art in honor of Van Gogh. I'm marveled that a farmer can make such a large piece of art from the ground and have it look so much like "Olive trees" and not know what it looks like until after its done from above. If more people made land art like this our world would be such a more beautiful place and people would be interested in famous art. After knowing this farmer makes Van Gogh land art I'm interested to see what he does after this and will hopefully follow this story.

  • erinu-day
    11/01/2015 - 06:09 p.m.

    Herd has a very unique talent. His ability to translate such an iconic painters work with such skill on such a huge canvas is really incredible. Every color and plant must be thought out and every line carefully sowed. His art is not traditional but it is certainly art and definitely masterful.

  • daniell1-lam
    11/02/2015 - 11:42 a.m.

    This article was fun to read. Paint is bad for the earth and he wanted to preserve it and not damage the earth.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    11/02/2015 - 11:44 a.m.

    He used these things because it was supposed to be an autumn thing and those are all autumn produce. Plus, their natural coloring gave him the right colors to make the painting.

  • owenm1-lam
    11/02/2015 - 11:46 a.m.

    I wish I could see something like this. It seems like it would be really tedious work getting the whole portrait together and have it look so alike the original copy.

  • liamn-lam
    11/02/2015 - 11:54 a.m.

    I just imagine how hard it is to make something like that and how long it takes. It's so amazing how people can make works of art using plants.

  • jacobt-lam
    11/02/2015 - 11:54 a.m.

    The thought of even managing to replicate a painting from on of the best artists in the world with crops in incredible to think about. The fact that he made it extremely close in comparison to the actual painting doesn't cease to amaze me.

  • madelinep-lam
    11/02/2015 - 11:56 a.m.

    This beautiful Van Gogh piece deserves all the honor and attention it is receiving from Minneapolis students. I have flown into the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, and saw this rendition. (But did not recognize it.) This brilliant idea puts Gogh's beautiful artwork on show for a broader audience.

  • eliser-eat
    11/02/2015 - 11:57 a.m.

    Stan Herd used pumpkins,watermelons,squash because he wants to get the actual colors for the piece of art that he made.Also,he wanted his art to come to life.But,if he used something else the art wouldn't look realistic.And in the passage he said it was very difficult.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    11/03/2015 - 03:39 p.m.

    What I want to know is how he found the initiative to even get up and do something like this. I mean, I like certain things but that doesn't mean I will spend months of hard work creating something such as this. It is incredible though.

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