Impressionist Masterpieces—With and Without Milk

High school students make van Gogh’s The Starry Night in breakfast cereal, 2010 AP Photo/The Herald Journal, Alan Murray.

A group of students in Smithfield, Utah, completed a 6,400 square-foot replica of Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night out of breakfast cereal. We encourage all ways of connecting to great art, but this one jumps to the top of my list in terms of deliciousness. I’m sure the pigs (who reportedly later ate the cereal) would agree.


Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night¸1889. Museum of Modern Art

The real oil on canvas The Starry Night hangs on the walls in NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, and is generally considered one of the greatest works by one of the world’s greatest artist. In its abstract swirls, we read van Gogh’s feelings about the starry landscape more so than the actual visual representation of the view. The sky is swirling and magical; the tidy village is composed and calm. I love how the high school students’ cereal version can accurately capture the blending colors of the sky, and wonder if the boxiness of their townscape was a purposeful interpretation of van Gogh’s orderly French village.

If anyone is interested in making their own cereal paintings, I ran through the Museum’s galleries and selected three that I thought could work well writ in Cheerios or Fruit Loops. The artist in each of these paintings uses color to loosely capture the sensation of light on a field, a garden, a hat, or water.


Edmund C. Tarbell, Three Sisters—A Study in June Sunlight, 1890. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Montgomery Sears. Photography, Ephraim Le-ver.

Pierre Bonnard, View from the Artists’ Studio, Le Cannet, 1945. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley. Photography, John Nienhuis.

Claude Monet, Waterlook Bridge, Sunlight Effect, ca. 1900. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Mrs. Albert T. Friedmann. Photography, John R. Glembin.


The Cheerios Animal Play Book, by Lee Wade, published by Little Simon (1999)

Or, for those that need a short cut, for $7.99 you can order the Cheerios Play Book at www.momastore.org and fill in playful scenes with the famous loops of cereal. It might not be masterpieces of art, but those are cute monkeys.

About Mel Buchanan

Mae E. Demmer Assistant Curator of 20th c Design, Milwaukee Art Museum. Lover of museums, objects, and cilantro
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