Say you’re an iconic Danish toy company and you’ve already harnessed the power of some of the most famous pop culture franchises in history (namely Marvel, Star Wars and Harry Potter) – where do you turn? next in your quest for inspiration? If you guessed the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, you’re right. (Although seriously, why would you guess that?)
The newest set from Lego (the toy giant in question) was originally the brainchild of Hong Kong-based PhD student Truman Cheng. He noticed that the brushstrokes in Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh’s signature painting, which has resided at MoMA since 1935, looked a lot like stacked bricks. Cheng submitted his design through the Lego Ideas platform, where he got thousands of votes from the passionate Lego fan community.
Before they could bring the set to life, the company had to get approval from the museum. Fortunately, the MoMA accepted. Van Gogh may not have sold more than a few paintings in his lifetime, but his genius surely belongs on the shelves of gift shops and the homes of dedicated Lego collectors.
Executing Cheng’s vision fell to Lego designer Søren Gehlert Dyrhøj, who recently visited MoMA to see Starry Night in person for the first time and meet with a few journalists, including myself, to talk about the process. . A small group of us were admitted to the galleries before the museum opened to the public, and we huddled in front of the painting, admiring its fierce and joyful dynamism, the luminous swirls of the moon and the shining Venus in the sky, the peaceful little Provençal town, the imposing cypresses anchoring the foreground.
“I tried to get into his mindset,” Dyrhøj said.
Fortunately, that didn’t mean a trip to a mental hospital in Provence (Van Gogh painted his 1889 masterpiece after committing to one), but rather spending a lot of time with photographs of the painting and pixelating the picture. image to see how the different colors came together. .
It took about 2 weeks for Dyrhøj to come up with his preliminary design. He then met with a committee of fellow Lego designers, who helped him refine his plan, and the group that put together the instruction booklets. The result is a 1,500-piece set that can be hung on the wall or displayed on a table; it’s labeled 18+, so it’s not appropriate for younger Lego fans. (My 12-year-old son, however, really enjoyed building it.)
The set will go on sale next week on May 25 exclusively for The Lego VIP Program and MoMA members, then will be available to everyone else on June 1 on Lego.comin Lego stores and at the MoMA Design Store in New York and on line.
Lego will also be holding a design contest where people can submit their own miniature versions of the night sky. The winning drawings will be part of an installation on display in MoMA’s lobby this summer. Participants can enter by visiting www.LEGO.com/Starry-Night; Contest ends June 30.