12 January 2014

Star Wars Classical Painting Mashups

Graphic designer Leaf Scott has recently created a wonderful set of Star Wars mashups.  Taking the works of some of the world’s most renowned painters, Leaf has placed a selection of Star Wars characters in to the world of classical oil paintings.  Above we have Yoda in Alexandre-François Desportes’ Landscape with a Dog.

How the Grand Master of the Jedi Order might react to replacing a dog in this painting is anyone’s guess.  However, you can only imagine that Yoda would be as pragmatic as ever.  He might say something along the lines of ‘always two there are, no more, no less. A master and a, erm, dog.”

Darth Maul in Velázquez' Portrait of Pablo de Valladolid
This portrait of Darth Maul was originally of Pablo de Valladolid by Diego Velázquez, one of the greatest writers of the Spanish Golden Age.

It is now housed in the Prado, the main Spanish national art museum.

While Darth Maul is a (pretty evil) Sith Lord in the Star Wars universe, Valladolid was in fact the court jester and actor at the court of King Philip IV.

The original declamatory pose of the comic actor becomes something altogether more sinister with Darth Maul’s head atop the body.

Gamorrean guard in Édouard Manet’s Le Bon Bock
Manet had been a huge fan of Velázquez’ jester so he may not have approved of these modern mashups – so who better to turn our attention to than him?

Here, we have his 1873 painting Le Bon Bock (which roughly translates as ‘a good pint’).  In the original, a large, cheerful, bearded man sits with a pipe in one hand and a glass of beer in the other – and in his place we now have a Gamorrean.

While no doubt the Gamorreans enjoy the odd tipple, one can’t help but think that if this was a cartoon, the next frame would be of him bashing someone with the pint. As for what he might do with the pipe – I will leave that to your imagination.

Jar Jar Binks in Rembrandt Peale’s portrait of his brother with a geranium
Rubens Peale, as seen by his brother, Rembrandt.  Rubens was a late starter when it came to painting, producing most of his work during the last ten years of his life.

So, it is perhaps appropriate that Jar Jar Binks was Leaf’s choice for this particular mashup.

Even over a decade after the release of The Phantom Menace people still find it difficult to be drawn to Jar Jar.

Rembrandt Peale, however, is best known for his portraits of several American presidents.   Jar Jar himself was no stranger to politics, giving a speech to the assembled Senate in favor of granting Chancellor Palpatine enormous emergency powers.

I love the way that Jar Jar is now eating the geranium, which seems entirely in character. Way to go, Delegate Binks.

Padmé Amidala in Édouard Manet’s Portrait of a Lady with a Parrot
The reception to Manet’s 1866 work was mixed with one critic saying it displayed ‘a sort of pantheism in which the head is esteemed no more than a slipper’.

Natalie Portman, who portrayed Padmé was accused of giving the role the slipper in more ways than one. Many still insist to this day that the computer generated characters were more believable and sympathetic than hers.

Perhaps a finger might possibly be pointed elsewhere, even though George Lucas is renowned for his mastery of writing and directing intimate, one-on-one scenes.

Whatever your thoughts here, you have to love Amidala’s new parrot.

Palpatine and A.Skywalker in Jan de Bray’s Portrait of the Artist's Parents
Painted around 1660 this intimate portrait is of artist de Bray’s parents.  Yet, for those who argue that Anakin was always a bit of a girl this does the trick rather well.

There is a deeper resonance here, too.  De Bray’s parents posed as Ulysses and Penelope.  Here, Anakin takes the Penelope role. Penelope was effectively controlled by the goddess Athena and the motives of mortals and gods often coincided.  With Athena and Penelope, however – they did not.

While Athena controlled the action, Penelope simple felt impulses contrary to her nature but went along with them anyway.  That rings some bells.

Kuriositas would like to thank Leaf Scott for his kind permission to reproduce his wonderful mashups for your pleasure.