Van Gogh in the Rice Paddies

By Hipólito Rafael Chacón.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The phenomenon of large-scale public art projects has gone viral. From corn mazes in
agricultural lands and rice paddies planted in imitation and emulation of classical paintings to choreo-
graphed flocks of sheep, these projects often reveal a sophisticated degree of communal organization
and the expenditure of sometimes vast amounts of human energy and resources. The widespread
distribution of videos about these memetic projects on YouTube and other digital media networks means
that they are familiar to millions around the world and engender others. To what end? In this article, Dr.
Hipólito Rafael Chacón, Professor of Art History and Criticism at The University of Montana (USA),
analyzes the rich gamut of projects that are currently documented online. He describes how these
works resonate with traditions of land-based art known to art history and archeology, specifically how
they relate to the land art, pop, and mass culture movements of the last quarter of the 20th century.
Most importantly, he demonstrates how their diffusion via electronic media reveals a new and increasingly
global culture, while pointing to the insufficiency of these media.

Keywords: Public Art, Communal Projects, Land Art, Social Networks

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.111-120. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 623.249KB).

Dr. Hipólito Rafael Chacón

Professor of Art History and Criticism, School of Art, The University of Montana-Missoula, Missoula, Montana, USA

Hipólito Rafael Chacón is Professor of Art History and Criticism in the School of Art at the University of Montana. He received his Ph.D. in art history with highest honors from the University of Chicago in 1995. He writes, teaches, and lectures on a variety of art historical and critical subjects. He has a particular interest in architectural history and historic preservation issues, as well as popular culture and its intersection with the visual arts. Dr. Chacón is the recipient of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Distinguished Faculty Award and, most recently, the Dorothy Ogg Award for Individual Contributions to Historic Preservation. He published a book on the life and work of influential Montana architect A.J. Gibson in 2008 and co-curated with the Montana Museum of Art & Culture the exhibition on Gibson and his achievements. His most recent publication is the article titled “Miraculous Survival: the Art of Glacier National Park” in the summer edition of Montana: The Magazine of Western History, just in time for the park’s centennial. He is currently researching medieval pilgrimage routes in the kingdom of Bohemia.


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