Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a member today »

A GIF comparing Vincent van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” to Stan Herd’s crop art rendition (all images courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Arts unless otherwise stated)

One of Vincent van Gogh’s olive tree paintings has literally sprung to life, reproduced as a large, growing field in Minnesota. Last month the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) unveiled a 1.5-acre work of crop art by Stan Herd, a Kansas-based artist who has planted many earthworks around the world, including a re-creation of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches of gliders. Commissioned by Mia to celebrate the museum’s centennial, this most recent piece replicates van Gogh’s “Olive Trees,” one of 15 known paintings of the trees the artist produced in the fall of 1889. That specific work actually hangs in the museum, but Herd’s has sprouted on a site belonging to media firm Thomson Reuters, near the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport.

The gridded version Herd used as a guide (click to enlarge)

Herd has cultivated the field since spring, and his sprawling artwork will remain on view through the end of the fall. Prior to the planting, he had to carefully determine which specific plants and soils to incorporate in order to best represent van Gogh’s particular palette. The painter’s brushstrokes, too, demanded the mowing and digging of many serpentine paths.

“You can see this is darker, so I’m planting these kind of more verdant, green plants, he explained in a video about the crop artwork’s creation, pointing at a gridded version of the painting he used as a plan.

“The amazing thing about van Gogh’s painting is that there’s not a single straight line in the whole canvas,” he added. “Everything is organic and curved and flowing, and it’s like a pulse.”

The result, just slightly muted in tone, is impressively faithful to the original painting. Mia chose the site specifically so planes arriving to the airport will pass it, so you’ll be able to see it from above if you’re flying into the city — just be sure to choose a seat on the left.

Stan Herd’s crop art from above

Stan Herd’s crop art from above

Stan Herd’s crop art from above

The work in progress

The work in progress

The work in progress

The work in progress

The work in progress

Support Hyperallergic

As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever. 

Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.

Become a Member

Claire Voon

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

4 replies on “Holy Crop! A van Gogh Painting Recreated in a Field”

  1. This is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo rad! And my gut tells me it’s not going to be taken as seriously (by ART’s tres chic mouthpieces) as would be appropriate but hopefully I’m totes wrong. Thank you for posting this and spreading such delicious news!

  2. Stan Herd’s absolutely amazing work comes on the 125th anniversary of van Gogh’s death, which is being commemorated all the places the artist lived. Prominent among these places is St. Rémy de Provence, where Valetudo–an art therapy association that still treats patients at the same institution to which van Gogh turned for help, and where he painted many of his greatest masterpieces–organized the local commemorations [http://bit.ly/1JV7U0I]. Valetudo invited the School of Visual Arts in New York to participate, exhibiting works of its alumni alongside paintings of Valetudo’s current patients [http://bit.ly/1LBHdWe]

Comments are closed.