Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The art of the remake

A website that asks people to reimagine great paintings looks like an irreverant joke. But, in fact, it is part of an age-old tradition.

Strike a pose – everyone's doing it. Particularly artists; they have been voguing for centuries. Contributors to a blog called Remake/Submissions apply Madonna's advice from her dance hit Vogue to art. They strike poses from famous paintings, photographing themselves or friends as Frida Kahlo, or El Greco's Woman in a Fur Wrap. Costume, makeup and lighting allow them to complete the picture and "remake" great works of art such as Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe or Velázquez's Las Meninas. You don't have to imitate figurative art – one contributor even arranged clothes in a suitcase to reproduce the colours of Piet Mondrian's Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow. Another work uses, apparently, acrylic paints as part of a recreation of Picasso's Weeping Woman.

Film directors are particular fans of the art remake (as well as the film remake). Derek Jarman restaged baroque paintings in Caravaggio. The cerebral French master of cinema Jean-Luc Godard goes further in his 1982 film Passion, recreating works by many great artists including Rembrandt's Night Watch and Goya's Third of May. Godard's tableaux are designed to interrogate the power of images: what makes a particular painting so authoritative? Is it the pose or the lighting? Where does the power come from?

Read the full article here.

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