Artnet_ Three of the most famous works by Vincent van Gogh have each been recreated at a microscopic size—smaller than a period—inside of a watch, making for the ultimate in wearable art.
The paintings—Starry Night (1889), Sunflowers (1888), and Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat (1887)—have each been recreated by the British artist David Lindon. Each measures about half a millimeter.
The timepiece is being sold by Hammond Galleries for about $192,800. It is made of gold, micro pigments, and nylon.
“David uses his engineering background to design and create the most appropriate displays which usually incorporate specialized lighting and built in microscopes to give the perfect viewing angle,” Edward Hammond said in emailed remarks to Artnet News.
Lindon, before becoming an artist, trained as an engineer with the British Defense Ministry to work on “complex instrumentation” and aircraft systems.
“Manipulation of the material is key because the laws of physics appear to change under high magnification,” Lindon told Artnet News. “A shiny smooth gold ring under a microscope can have the color and texture of chopped wood.”
The idea for the watch came about because Hammond and Lindon both wanted to create a “wearable art gallery” that combines the intricacies of a watch with Lindon’s skill at creating detailed microscopic paintings to highlight the Van Gogh Museum’s 50th anniversary.
“We approached the Vincent van Gogh Museum and found them to be encouraging and supportive,” Hammond said, adding that Lindon had recreated microscopic Van Gogh paintings in the past “to world acclaim.”
Lindon said he has developed an “intimate connection” with Van Gogh because he must be able to look “into his mind” to effectively recreate his works at such a small scale.
“I have to master my emotions and harness them to express in color what was on his mind when he created his wonderful paintings,” Lindon said.
Lindon must overcome “monumental challenges” that push him to the limits of mental and physical endurance, he said. A single painting can take up to three months to complete and, with one wrong flick, months of work could go flying “into the unknown oblivion.”
“The invisible forces of static electricity can sweep away my creations like a strong magnet suddenly being switched on and snapping away work with a click of a finger,” he said.
“A cough or sneeze can have a similar effect to blowing the art out from under the microscope but inhaling a piece of art and having it lodged in your nose is another challenge altogether.”
A tiny replication of Banksy’s Happy Choppers is pictured. Courtesy of David Lindon
The tools Lindon uses all have to be created by himself by hand before the work can begin and the tools often have to be remade several times during the creation of one artwork because of their fragile nature.
“When I sit down at the microscope, I must have prepared for the rigors to come. Eating the right food, having a well-maintained body and a clear focused mind,” Lindon said.
“I control my movements with the precision of a brain surgeon. The mind switches to a heightened level of concentration, more than most people are capable of. I work closely with the microscope, treating it as an extension of my body.”
Lindon said that humans have always been fascinated with scale and that each generation has pushed the boundaries of what is possible.
“For me, the fundamental truth is that art must be handmade for it to be appreciated,” he said. “My art should have the same artistic worth whether it is full size or microscopic.”
Hammond said the watch will be the first in a series of watches that include microscopic paintings recreating the works of Picasso, Dali and Warhol. Lindon has also completed a commission for a private client to reproduce a Banksy triptych that he said will be revealed in early September.
Lindon has also created 24 new pieces of art which will be available to view on a world tour including The Smallest Zoo in the World.