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11 Fun, Silly, Weird and Far Out Monet Tributes

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Today would have been Claude Monet’s 172nd birthday, so in honor of one of the world’s most influential impressionists, here are a few tributes to his famous works of art.

1. Land of Misfit Toys

We just had an article about recycled art yesterday, but we didn’t include Tom Deininger, another talented artist specializing in the use of discarded toys. Here’s what happens when a pile of old plastic toys and trash come together to form “Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies.” While most of the pieces are too small to see without coming in for a more detailed shot, you can probably at least spot the Sponge Bob Squarepants toy in the top right.

2. Modern Art

It’s hard to say if Monet would've approved of Banksy’s graffiti or his political message, but there’s no doubt that Banksy has been inspired to some extent by the impressionist. In fact, he has even taken to recreating Monet’s classic “Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies” with the modern addition of abandoned shopping carts and traffic cones sitting in the waterway. The name of the doctored piece? “Show Me the Monet.”

This piece is one of many that the famous graffiti artist has snuck in and hung in famous art galleries and museums around the world.

3. Toon Tribute

The Simpsons have mimicked just about every top artist of the last 2000 years and seeing Bart get a ride along the artist’s famous garden bridge only serves to show just how relevant Monet’s work remains in modern times.

4. Having A Ball

Claude Cormier & Associates Inc. used over 90,000 plastic balls to create this amazing replica of the wisteria blooms that Monet was so fond of painting throughout the years. The creation was designed to help Le Havre celebrate their Contemporary Art Biennale with a tribute to the city’s most famous native.

5. Building Blocks

It’s hard to capture a lot of detail in a Lego creation, but the blurriness of this remake of Monet’s 1873 “Impression, Soleil Levant” by William Keckler only makes it a more suitable tribute to the impressionist.

6. 8-Bit Impressionism

Ever wish you could see what Monet’s work would look like if it were recreated in the 8-bit video game world of the past? Well, artist Jaebum Joo is here to help by reinterpreting “Study of a Figure Outdoors: Woman with a Parasol, facing left” as a classic game image.

7. Dutch Treat

These days, you aren’t anyone if you haven’t had an artistic cake designed to look like you or your work. Fortunately, Flickr user Megpi helped further secure Monet’s place in history with this lovely recreation of his famous “Tulip Fields With The Rijnsburg Windmill.”

8. Nerd Alert

Like cake dedications, any famous artist of the past is destined to have a few geek interpretations of their work. This “Darth Vader With A Parasol” painting by David Barton is a perfect blend of classic Monet and 20th century pop culture.

9. Meow-nay

Not even a classic impressionist like Monet can escape the internet’s cat obsession. Here is artist Svetlana Petrova’s take on “Haystacks at Giverny” with her little Zarathustra taking over for the haystack.

10. Invasion

What happens when Voltron invades “Les Coquelicots a Argenteuil?” Well, while you might expect a lot of screaming and terror at the sight of the giant robot, according to artist Hillary White, things seem to go on pretty much as usual—just with a massive robot blocking out much of the scenery.

11. The Comic Connection

To help promote the release of The Avengers, Marvel decided to publish a number of variant covers for some of their most popular titles this April. All of the titles were inspired by famous artworks of the past and while this variant of Avengers Assemble #2 by Stephanie Hans doesn’t seem to be based on any particular Monet painting (although it could be one I’m just not familiar with), it’s immediately obvious that the style was definitely inspired by the impressionist’s great body of work.

What do you guys think of these tributes? Are they sad attempts at capitalizing on the work of one of the world’s most famous artists? Or are they fitting dedications to someone who has influenced the art world so, so much? Also, if you happen to know of any other tributes not listed here, feel free to tell us about them in the comments.

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Watch an Artist Build a Secret Studio Beneath an Overpass
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Lebrel

Artists can be very particular about the spaces where they choose to do their work. Furniture designer Fernando Abellanas’s desk may not boast the quietest or most convenient location on Earth, but it definitely wins points for seclusion. According to Co.Design, the artist covertly constructed his studio beneath a bridge in Valencia, Spain.

To make his vision a reality, Abellanas had to build a metal and plywood apparatus and attach it to the top of an underpass. After climbing inside, he uses a crank to wheel the box to the top of the opposite wall. There, the contents of his studio, including his desk, chair, and wall art, are waiting for him.

The art nook was installed without permission from the city, so Abellanas admits that it’s only a matter of time before the authorities dismantle it or it's raided by someone else. While this space may not be permanent, he plans to build others like it around the city in secret. You can get a look at his construction process in the video below.

[h/t Co.Design]

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15 Facts About Franz Marc's Yellow Cow
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To gaze upon German Expressionist Franz Marc's Yellow Cow is to take in a surreal and spirited painting, alive with color. But within its bold brush strokes and envelope-pushing aesthetic lies the unexpected story of a complicated love between two artists, and the path that led them together.

1. YELLOW COW IS WILDLY DIFFERENT FROM FRANZ MARC'S EARLY WORKS.

Philosophy student-turned-painter Franz Marc attended the Munich Academy of Art during the turn of the 20th century. There, he studied natural realism, striving to capture his subjects in portraits true to dimension, gesture, and color. In 1902, he created Portrait of the Artist's Mother, which immortalized homemaker and devout Calvinist Sophie Marc. Sitting in profile, she leans over a book, reading by the light of an unseen lantern. Though Marc would become known for his vibrant color choices, here he favored darker shades that gave the painting a flat appearance, and a somber mood.

2. YELLOW COW'S CREATION WAS INSPIRED BY GERMAN NUDISTS.

In the early 20th century, Germany was in the midst of a back-to-nature movement, which saw several new artist collectives and nudist colonies pop up around the country. This celebration of the glory of the land and its natural inhabitants spoke to Marc, who later explained, "People with their lack of piety, especially men, never touched my true feelings. But animals with their virginal sense of life awakened all that was good in me."

3. HE VIEWED ANIMALS AS GOD-LIKE CREATURES.

Like the naturalists, Marc came to value the rural wonders of the country. He abandoned the bustle and urban intellectualism of Munich, and sought the spirituality and peace he believed could be found in living simply, as animals do. He began to think of them as having a "god-like presence and power." In a 1908 letter, Marc attempted to detail how this belief was informing his work, writing, "I am trying to intensify my ability to sense the organic rhythm that beats in all things, to develop a pantheistic sympathy for the trembling flow of blood in nature, in trees, in animals, in air—I am trying to make a picture of it … with colors which make a mockery of the old kind of studio picture."

4. ANIMALS BECAME A SIGNATURE MOTIF FOR MARC.

This is an image of Dog Lying in the Snow by Franz Marc
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

By 1907, Marc was focusing his work on capturing the spiritualism found in animals. Other notable works in the vein include The Fox, Dog Lying In The Snow, The Little Blue Horses, The Red Bull, Little Monkey, Monkey Frieze, Wild Boars in the Water, and The Tiger.

5. YELLOW COW IS A VERY LARGE PAINTING.

Measuring 55 3/8 by 74 1/2 inches, it's nearly 5 by 6 feet wide.

6. MARC DEVELOPED HIS OWN COLOR SYMBOLISM.

This is an image of Self-portrait by August Macke.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Colors would recur in Marc's work and speak to different emotions or themes. In 1910, he explained his use of color in a letter to friend and colleague, artist August Macke. Marc wrote, "Blue is the male principle, astringent and spiritual. Yellow is the female principle, gentle, gay, and spiritual. Red is matter, brutal and heavy and always the color to be opposed and overcome by the other two."

7. YELLOW COW MIGHT BE AN UNCONVENTIONAL WEDDING PORTRAIT.

Exploring the painter's works and statements on his use of color, art historian Mark Rosenthal declared that the frolicking cow is actually a veiled depiction of Marc's second wife Maria Franck, while the distant blue mountains are meant to represent the painter himself. Painted the same year the couple were married, it times out to potentially be representative of their nuptials. The blending of the blue into the cow's spots suggests the joining of masculine and feminine.

8. FRANCK WAS A RECURRING MUSE FOR HER LOVER.

In 1906, before they were married, Marc had sketched a more traditional portrait of his wife-to-be, titled simply Mädchenkopf, which translates—rather unsentimentally—to "girl's head." That same year, he captured Franck in the abstract painting Two Women on the Hillside. Later, he created Maria Franck in a White Cap.

9. MARC AND FRANCK HAD A COMPLICATED ROMANCE.

An artist in her own right, Franck met Marc at a costume ball in Schwabing, Germany. The pair hit it off, and also befriended illustrator Marie Schnür, resulting in a shared Bavarian summer of creativity (and rumored three-way trysts). Schnür was the other woman who modeled for Two Women on the Hillside, as well as the other woman captured in a NSFW photo from their formative season in the sun. Marc ended up marrying both women, starting with Schnür.

Theirs was a marriage of convenience, meant to aid her in securing custody of her bastard baby boy, whom she had with another man. Details on this marriage are scant beyond that it was brief, lasting from 1907 to 1908. However, because Schnür accused Marc of infidelity, he was barred from remarrying until a special dispensation was granted, which took years. So while Marc and Franck had tried to wed in 1911, their official "I do" didn't come until June 3, 1913, in Munich.

10. TWO WOMEN ON THE HILLSIDE WAS A SIGN OF MARC'S TRANSITION TO HIS SIGNATURE STYLE.

This is an image of Two Women on the Hillside by Franz Marc.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Looking back on 1906's Two Women on the Hillside, it seems to foretell Yellow Cow. Depicting the two women who, in their own ways, would inspire Yellow Cow, Marc moved away from the German realist art he studied in college. Instead, looser brush strokes speak to Post-Impressionist interests, and the willful abstractness of its subjects predicts the evolving German expressionism movement of which he would become a part. It also shows repetition in the lines—of the woman's hip to the hill beyond—that would be revisited in Yellow Cow, whose haunches mirror the rise and fall of the mountains behind her.

11. YELLOW COW WAS A PART OF THE DER BLAUE REITER ART MOVEMENT.

Named for a Wassily Kandinsky painting, this movement boasted members like Kandinsky, Marc, Macke, Alexej von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, and Gabriele Münter. Der Blaue Reiter (translating to The Blue Rider) had no hard manifesto, but its members shared a common urge to express spiritualism through their work, and often specifically through color. Turned away from exhibitions, they toured with their own, and published an almanac that celebrated contemporary, primitive, and folk art, along with children's paintings.

12. DER BLAUE REITER WAS DEVASTATED BY WORLD WAR I.

The Blue Rider movement only lasted from 1911 to 1914, in large part because the tensions growing between nations chased Russian artists back to their homeland, while Germans, including Marc and Macke, were conscripted into military service. As these artistic colleagues scattered, their movement faded. But it proved fundamental to the evolving Expressionism, and its works would remain.

13. MARC DID NOT LIVE TO SEE HIS LEGACY SECURED.

Marc's animal paintings would go on to awe viewers for decades to come. They'd become coveted by collectors and museums. And a plaque would be placed on the Munich home where he was born, remembering him as a founder of Der Blaue Reiter. But Marc was killed on March 4, 1916, during the Battle of Verdun. He was 36 years old.

14. FRANCK SAW TO IT THAT HIS WORKS WOULD BE PRESERVED.

This is an image of art historian, Klaus Lankheit.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Marc's widow gave records of his life and writing to German art historian Klaus Lankheit. She called on German writer/gallery owner Herwarth Walden to exhibit her late husband's works in a posthumous show in October of 1916. While continuing to create and exhibit her own work, she collected Marc's letters from the war's front, and in 1920 had them published in a two-volume book called Briefe, Aufzeichnungen und Aphorismen (translating to Letters, Records, and Aphorisms). According to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where a copy of each is preserved, "The first volume contains letters written from September 1914 to March 1916 as well as records alongside color plates, and the second presents the artist’s sketchbook." Franck preserved Marc's legacy in whatever way she could, and in doing so, gave him to the world.

15. YELLOW COW IS REMEMBERED AS A JOYFUL MASTERPIECE.

While it might not sound complimentary to compare your wife to a cow, the consensus on Yellow Cow is that it signifies the happiness and bliss Marc's bond with Franck brought to his life. The bovine's bright colors are jubilant and yet the colors of her body jibe with those in her environment. She belongs here. Her pose is enthusiastic and bold—almost dance-like. If you look closely, you can even see a small smile play across her lips. It's an unusual love letter, but one that's outlived its lovers, and now hangs on the walls of the Guggenheim in New York City, to inspire many more.

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