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
Lexile

If you're flying through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this fall, keep an eye out for Vincent van Gogh's "Olive Trees." You might see it from your airplane window. It won't be hard to miss because 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. There are strong hues of yellow in the painting. They'd suggest that the picture depicts the olive trees in the fall months. 

Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, about using the trees as a subject. He said 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 strange ode to van Gogh is the work of landscape artist Stan Herd, reports Mary Abbe for the Star Tribune. It was created to honor two milestones, the Minneapolis Institute of Art's 100th birthday 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. The work is currently on display at the MIA. To copy the artist's iconic brushwork, Herd grew patches of pumpkins and squash. He grew watermelons and cantaloupes. He arranged 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. In the decades since, he has created dozens of larger-than-life pieces around the world.

"Olive Trees" will be on display through the fall. But Herd plans to mow it down in concentric circles. This should copy 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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did Stan Herd use pumpkins, watermelons and squash instead of something else?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (183)
  • aidanp-jac
    10/30/2015 - 04:58 p.m.

    Wow I love it.

  • ryan0420-yyca
    10/30/2015 - 07:04 p.m.

    Thats cool it looks like it is a acutal painting. It must have took a lot of work because it looks pretty cool. I think that they must have had to use a lot of seeds for growing these stuff because it would take a lot of watermelons and squash because it covered up a whole 2 miles.I'm pretty sure that they had to use a plane because they needed to see how good the art looks from the sky.

  • ryans-5-ver
    10/30/2015 - 09:48 p.m.

    Really fascinating. I wonder what else he painted besides starry night of course.

    • elianat-moo
      11/05/2015 - 10:31 a.m.

      I think he painted "The Scream" as well.

  • miac-cam
    11/01/2015 - 03:45 p.m.

    He wanted his work to be graceful, but organic too.

  • andersons-gra
    11/01/2015 - 08:15 p.m.

    That's so crazy that he made that. I would like to se another one.

  • autianae-ste
    11/02/2015 - 09:06 a.m.

    I really like the fact that they are expressing the uniqueness of the art. I would assume they took a massive amount of time to accomplish it and added their creativeness to it with using the pumpkins, watermelons, and squash.

  • p1-preston-pen
    11/02/2015 - 09:25 a.m.

    I think this is pretty cool how he wants to recreate his favorite artists painting onto a 4 acre field.

  • shackelforda,-mit
    11/02/2015 - 10:06 a.m.

    That is amazing! I can't believe my eyes! ????

  • pierrem,-mit
    11/02/2015 - 10:11 a.m.

    That is very creative to use nature as a subject of a piece of art. I would definitely do that for an art piece

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