Laurence Aëgerte‘s conceptual photography series, “Hermitage, The Modernists” depicts staged people and objects in front of classic paintings – by artists like Van Dongen, Kandinsky, Matisse, and Picasso – that were on view at the Hermitage Amsterdam during 2010. Aëgerte’s series complicates the expectation of the experience of iconic works by turning them into photographic palimpsests – the patterns, textures, and colors of the people and objects are juxtaposed against the paintings-as-backdrop that frame the foregrounded subject, elevating the layers of significance of the original painting.
Aëgerte says, ”I wanted to investigate our individual relation to art and our perception of iconic artworks. The more the icon is alive in our mind—by means of reproductions and stories around it—the higher is the intensity of the expectation to be confronted with its reality. But what can we really experience of it? When our vision of a work of art is altered, it becomes a reversed mirror—anchored in our present time. By layering the images, I seek the in-between spaces and bits of time that occur in the process of looking.”
Generic Art Solutions is a duo made up of artists Matt Vis and Tony Campbell. The two artists comment on present day anxiety by re-imagining classic paintings. Their photographs are carefully staged, often to resemble classic works of art. Their images are clearly populated with subjects, clothing, and settings that are all modern. However, the compositions immediately bring to mind the paintings of Caravaggio, Goya, and Marat. Perhaps a reason the images of the classic artwork and re-imagined in the duo’s photographs are still relevant is because people have never moved beyond the anxieties and problems that plagued us centuries ago. The gallery statement for their upcoming exhibit at Miami’s Mindy Solomon Gallery expounds on that point:
“The work of Generic Art Solutions (whether it be a photograph, performance, video, or print) begins with a thoughtful re-examination of the human condition, and the effect of recurring cycles of technological advancements and cultural awakenings. But, how much has mankind really evolved? Aren’t we essentially still making the same mistakes? According to the artists, it would certainly seem so. Compare Gericault’s famed painting ‘The Raft of the Medusa,’ 1819, to the G.A.S. representation of Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill in April 2010, as depicted in their photographic work ‘The Raft’ (2010): these two artworks portray shockingly similar tales of human suffering brought on by corporate greed. Or, take Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ commemorating the French Revolution in 1830, and the perpetual revolutionary uprisings of the Arab Spring as seen in G.A.S.’s ‘Liberty,’ 2011. The artists state: “However evolved we may think we are, the folly of human behavior is still the root of all societal (dis)functions. This is a sobering thought that demands attention. But there is a message of hope in these contemporary homages: through thoughtful reexamination and a commitment to change, we can break the cycle of repeating our mistakes.”
In addition to creating public work in cities, Spanish street artist Borondo has recently used spray paint to recreate monochromatic portraits using a hay stack as as a canvas. Although he’s using this unconventional material (even for a public artist), his classically-inspired style and flawless technique are sustained. No matter the materials used, each piece of Borondo’s is blended artfully into its surroundings, creating a subtle, ghostly effect. While touring Italy this summer, Borondo painted a few large public pieces, including this haystack work in Cotignola, but his work can seen around the globe. (via from89)