Dutch master Vincent van Gogh painted The Starry Night in 1889, and it is widely considered one of his greatest works. The image is oil on canvas and is dominated by a night sky, stirred by currents of wind and crossed by radiant yellow orbs, over a small town marked by the lights from the windows. The painting has been in the Museum of Modern Art since 1941 and is one of the most recognizable images in Western art.
Minecraft creator ChrisDaCow spent years creating some truly impressive builds and took it upon himself to recreate The Starry Night in-game.
It was a month of work as ChrisDaCow wrestled with how to build elements of the scene to get the right perspective and capture elements as brush strokes as best he could. This wasn’t just an aesthetic challenge – the amount of engineering know-how that goes into things like buildings is truly impressive.
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Chris DaCow says that what’s behind this is “just years of practice and love of the craft, honestly!” I asked Chris why he had gotten on board with the project. “I set the lens because the starry night seems to be such a beautiful place to walk,” he writes. “I wanted to be able to look up from inside the city and really see van Gogh’s starry night sky! Funny thing is, I wasn’t a huge fan of van Gogh before I started, but after creating the entire build, He is definitely my favorite artist.
I also asked the creator about his use of forced perspective when recreating the image. “I had to build a forced perspective because Minecraft literally wasn’t big enough to load the actual distance required,” writes ChrisDaCow. “I would have needed a render distance of more than 64 shards if I had made the large tree in the foreground further away and smaller.”
Unfortunately, the map is not available to the public, as he had to do a forced perspective within the game, otherwise the image would not fit. I asked the creator to explain some of the techniques he used and why he chose this particular image, and I’ll update with any answers.
We live in a hell of a world. Vincent van Gogh’s work may now be immortal, but he had a very hard life, without any notable commercial success and battled depression. This melancholy inhabits some of his work, like here, but it is shot through with wonder at nature’s patterns and bursts of light. The painter did not write much about the composition of what would become his most famous work, although he did write to his brother Theo: “This morning I saw the field from my window long before dawn, with nothing but the star of the morning, which looked very big. 133 years later, and even in our contemporary modes of expression, it looms larger than ever.