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." 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)
  • brandonw-1-ver
    11/02/2015 - 10:13 a.m.

    Because he calls his arts as "earthworks." I think it is pretty cool to make a art use the crops.

  • karlink,-mit
    11/02/2015 - 10:14 a.m.

    Hard work pays off.

  • hartc,-mit
    11/02/2015 - 10:28 a.m.

    That is amazing that some one could do earth art that well.

  • hillp-mit
    11/02/2015 - 10:47 a.m.

    Stan Herd wanted his artwork to be somewhat peaceful somewhat abstract and creative.

  • samantha4-whi
    11/02/2015 - 11:16 a.m.

    He used them for the yellow paint.

  • reham-whi
    11/02/2015 - 11:51 a.m.

    I never thought anyone can do that master peace that he has created!!!

  • malaya-whi
    11/02/2015 - 11:54 a.m.

    Stan Herd used pumpkins,watermelons,and squash in the art because he was doing a piece that used earth so he wanted to get the look of it perfect like the painting.Also so when people walk by it's not a big piece of land with mud and the different plants, it's would a master piece of land.

  • mariahb-eat
    11/02/2015 - 11:55 a.m.

    Stan Herd use pumpkins,watermelons and squash instead of something else because he had to make sure it was the right colors and get it just like the painting and He had to make sure it was unique.

  • braelyng-eat
    11/02/2015 - 11:58 a.m.

    Stan Herd used pumpkins , watermelons , and squash instead of something else because pumpkins , watermelons , and squash are seen to be ripe in this season and it provided the colors he needed to make the painting come to life .

  • charlottej2-jen
    11/02/2015 - 12:17 p.m.

    Stan Herd used pumpkins, watermelons, and squash because those three vegetables and fruit are the Fall's seasonal fruits and vegetables.

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