In the words of Vincent Van Gogh, "I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day." LEGO has captured this feeling perfectly in their latest set, Vincent van Gogh - The Starry Night #21333.
This LEGO set recreates Vincent van Gogh's famous painting, The Starry Night, with incredible accuracy and attention to detail.
Van Gogh was famously known for living with mental illnesses. In fact, many of his most famous paintings, including The Starry Night, were painted during his stay at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum. The painting depicts the view from his asylum window with the addition of an imaginary village.
In a letter to his brother, Theo, during his stay at the asylum, van Gogh wrote, "hope is in the stars." This gives us a small insight into the artist's mindset at the time and that the inspiration behind the painting was perhaps the hope of better things.
The actual 'The Starry Night' van Gogh oil-canvas painting is sitting pretty at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. This world-famous painting is currently retailed at a whopping one billion dollars... which is a little out of our budget. So, our team was extremely eager to receive what they considered the next best thing, and to say we were excited to get started is a serious understatement.
‘The Starry Night’ on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
As soon as we opened the box, it was clear that this set would be something special. With 2316 pieces, including a Minifigure of van Gogh himself, the level of detail and thought that has gone into every aspect is amazing.
The LEGO team explains, "This wonderfully detailed LEGO Ideas model (21333) comes with an adjustable display arm on which the Vincent van Gogh minifigure can stand with his paintbrush, palette and easel."
We were also impressed with LEGO's innovative idea to allow this set to be displayed as an artwork piece by a hook on a wall or freestanding.
The build itself was relatively straightforward, and the result was an accurate and beautiful replica of van Gogh's painting. In addition, the team was highly impressed with how the LEGO bricks imitated the fluidity of the painting. We also found the three dimensional depth of the set to be really effective, with the village, stars, and the cypress tree popping right out of an otherwise two dimensional picture.
Once built, the next step was of course adding lights to really make this night come alive!
The beauty of The Starry Night, one of the most famous landscape paintings of all time, is that you could spend a lifetime gazing into it yet still discover something new with each glance. So the LMB lighting team became near-obsessed with subtlety lighting this LEGO set without subtracting from the traditional beauty that is The Starry Night.
In terms of lighting opportunities, we knew we wanted to light up the stars to recreate the mood van Gogh had been inspired from while staring out his asylum window. We also thought the town needed some lighting additions to allow LEGO builders to envision the real-life Saint-Remy-de-Provence that served as the backdrop to The Starry Night. However, from the initial glance, our lighting designers were concerned there wouldn't be many opportunities to subtly place the lights without distracting too much from the LEGO set. So, here's how we worked our lighting magic on the Vincent van Gogh - The Starry Night #21333 LEGO set.
First, we lit up the town church and boathouse buildings with Yellow Bit Lights to give the town some life, but without making it too neon-bright - as it was still 1889, and we of course wanted to depict the town as van Gogh would have seen it.
Next, we lit up the stars and moon with many different colours of our Bit Lights and a range of stud elements to find the best combination possible, for each variation of the star pieces.
After stepping back a bit, we liked the dark atmosphere the sky created in the town, which would probably be the most accurate. However, we opted to add three spotlights to highlight the dynamic LEGO structures.
The Starry Night was largely based on van Gogh's emotions and imagination, both of which we tapped into to create the lighting additions to this magnificent LEGO set.
And there you have it! Overall, the team felt they enhanced the stunning LEGO model and created a more 'realistic' night sky as Van Gogh himself may have originally observed it.