There are artists who have emulated artwork among us; some of this came to the height of it’s conception during photography’s modern/postmodern transition and the concept of reproduction; Andy Warhol, Sherri Levine, Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman to name just a few.
For some like Sherri Levine and Richard Prince, the idea was copying the image itself, eroding the idea of copyright and originality. For others like Cindy Sherman, the idea wasn’t to “steal” artwork, but the idea that an image representation could become a stereotype, and recording herself as multiple female stereotypes in essence meant she could not in fact be any of those stereotypes.
However, during the pandemic, there was a new emergence of emulation. Galleries and museums closed. How could museums get the public to engage with art if they could not view the art? Thus the art challenge was born. If you look up hashtags like #mettwinning, #tussenkunstenquarantaine #betweenartandquarantine and #gettymuseumchallenge, you’ll find hundreds if not thousands of people recreating historical paintings with household items. What was once the purview of overly educated art students has now become an entire subgenera of creativity for the masses–a truly egalitarian interaction with art.
It is incredibly difficult to recreate a photograph accurately; the lighting, angle, depth of field, lens etc are all challenging to nail down, and it’s very obvious when there are differences. But the beauty of recreating an antique painting is that you don’t have to recreate it perfectly; you need only recreate the essence of the image, the soul.
So ask yourself, what’s important about the painting? The gesture? The colors? The mood? The lighting? Can toilet paper rolls take the place of old-timey wigs? Can your fancy tassel curtains take the place of a fancy robe? Part of the joy of this project is taking household items and creatively re-using them as props for your image. To see even more inspiring art representations, check out those tags from before, and you can also read this article with some great image examples. I hope you’ll take on the challenge over the holiday, and have the best sort of fun with art and a simple camera. Sometimes, as artists, we forget about that…