Elmgreen and Dragset’s rendering of “Van Gogh’s Ear” (2016) (photo courtesy the artists and Public Art Fund, NY)

In mid-April, Berlin art duo Elmgreen and Dragset will erect a 4.5-ton vaguely ear-shaped swimming pool outside Rockefeller Center. Titled “Van Gogh’s Ear,” the absurd public sculpture is only the latest example of the van Gogh-mania sweeping the art world. We’ve seen a deluge of artistic homages to the Dutch post-impressionist in recent years, from an AirBnB rental modeled after van Gogh’s famous bedroom in Arles to “Starry Night” recreated in a petri dish to a genetically faithful replica of the artist’s sliced-off ear. The tributes practically constitute an art movement unto themselves (Fan Gogh-ism? Vanboy Art?). In honor of what would’ve been Vincent’s 163rd birthday (March 30th, ok, we know, we’re late), we’ve ranked 11 tribute works, from films to parade floats to works of crop art, on a scale of one to five left ears.

Viktor and Rolf, Van Gogh Girls collection, 2015

Amsterdam-based fashion house Viktor & Rolf’s Van Gogh Girls collectionsculptural haute couture dresses inspired by “Sunflower” paintings. The dresses were treated as art objects in themselves –– a few were acquired by the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. 

Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” by Melanie Sullivan (courtesy American Society for Microbiology)

Starry Night” recreated in a petri dish: For the American Society for Microbiology (ASM)’s Agar Art contest, artist Melanie Sullivan recreated the painting’s famous swirls out of infection-causing bacteria. 

Still from “The Van Gogh Show” (courtesy Robert Reynolds)

“The Van Gogh Show,” a web series starring Bed-Stuy resident and Van Gogh doppelgänger Robert Reynolds as a struggling straw-hat wearing painter in today’s Brooklyn.

Van Gogh made of dahlias at the Corso Zundert Parade (2015) (Image by Werner Pellis)

In van Gogh’s birthplace of Zundert, the Netherlands, artists built massive floats from Dahlia blossoms inspired by the artist’s floral paintings for the annual Corso Zundert parade.

GIF comparing Vincent van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” to Stan Herd’s crop art rendition (image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

Van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” (1889) recreated in a field. Commissioned by Mia to celebrate the museum’s centennial, the 1.5-acre work of crop art by Stan Herd, a Kansas-based artist, replicates van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” with grass, dirt, plants, and serpentine paths.

A virtual reality experience based on the painting “The Night Cafe,” created by American artist Mac Cauley for the Oculus Mobile VR Jam

Van Gogh bicycle path in the Netherlands (courtesy Daan Roosegaarde & Heijmans)

A glow in the dark bike route inspired by van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Swirls formed from thousands of glow-in-the-dark stones are embedded in concrete (along with some guiding solar panel-fueled LEDs). It’s part of the Smart Highway project, led by Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s Studio Roosegaarde. 

The Art Institute of Chicago’s re-creation of Vincent van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” (1889), now available for rent on Airbnb (image courtesy AIC)

full-size, 3D replica of Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting “The Bedroom” (1889), complete with rustic twin bed, pale violet walls, copper-green wood floor, and straw hat on a peg. Created by the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), it’s available for rent on Airbnb.

A scene from the trailer of “Loving Vincent” (GIF via YouTube)

Loving Vincent, “the world’s first feature-length painted animation,” is a forthcoming film that tell the van Gogh’s life story through over 120 of his own animated oil paintings. Oscar-winning animation studio Breakthru Films brought together 100 painters trained specifically to mimic van Gogh’s own technique and brushstrokes, with each frame composed of actual, hand-painted artworks. 

Diemut Strebe, ‘Sugababe’ (2014–) (© Diemut Strebe)

A genetically faithful reproduction of van Gogh’s EarUsing genetic material culled from Lieuwe van Gogh, the great-great-grandson of Vincent van Gogh’s brother Theo, artist Diemut Strebe created a genetically faithful reproduction of the ear Vincent van Gogh reportedly cut off in 1888 during a psychotic episode. Enough with the cute Starry Night tributes. This ear may be the first step in creating the van Gogh tribute artwork to rule them all: A clone of the man himself.

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Carey Dunne

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.

4 replies on “Gogh Big or Gogh Home: A Definitive Ranking of van Gogh Art Tributes”

  1. Um, the Giant van Gogh in Goodland, KS didn’t make your list? Goodland was into being into van Gogh before being into van Gogh was even a thing.

  2. This story states that there are 11 ranked Van Gogh tributes. I do not see any left ears below Elmgreen & Dragset’s Van Gogh’s Ear. Is that a commentary?

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