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WikiArt

7 Unique Tattoos of Lesser Known Masterpieces

WikiArt
WikiArt

If you want a tattoo that is memorable, it’s reasonable to select a work of art that has stood firmly in the minds of men for generations. Familiar names like Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and Picasso call up popular images known the world over, and these are the pictures usually selected for inking. But for a tattoo that is both memorable and unique, why not examine the lesser known work of the great artists? You might find a piece of brilliance that speaks more to your individuality, like the tattoos below.

1. Edvard Munch’s Girl and Death

All right, I know you love The Scream. We all love The Scream. We all have moments when we feel like that terrified figment trapped alone in a sour warped rainbow. But Edvard Munch was able to render severe and complicated emotions in his other works, too. Munch created this sketch in 1894, putting an unsettling, brilliant twist on an ancient artistic subject, Death and the Maiden. In Munch’s world, Death didn’t frighten or dominate Woman (or Love, if you will). She embraces him tenderly, fearlessly. Tattoos are often chosen because they represent strength and courage. You don’t get much braver than kissing Death in the face.

2. Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Butterfat Studios / Wikiart

It’s hard to copy Rembrandt; he did works of careful subtlety and great detail. It’s especially hard when you’re wrapping his masterpiece around a fleshy human arm. All in all, this inking of Sea of Galilee went pretty well. You can see Jesus, with a slight glow around his head, in the bottom right corner, matching the glow of golden heavens that are pushing away the storm. Also, if you really like this painting, a tattoo is a good way to make sure it sticks around. No one has seen the original since it was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of Massachusetts in 1990, in what is still considered the largest art heist in history.

3. Van Gogh’s Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries, Sketch

This might shock you, but there are so many Van Gogh inspired tattoos out there that they are an absolute fad. They are the spiral perms of the 21st century. I resisted the sunflowers, the endless renditions of Starry Night (with and without the Tardis), and even a couple Café Terrace at Nights. But I liked this one. It’s the preliminary sketch Van Gogh quickly drew out of a painting he later finished. As he wrote a friend, “It was before the boats hastened out; I had watched them every morning, but as they leave very early I didn’t have time to paint them.”

4. Picasso’s The Dog

Not just any dog, mind you. Meet Lump. He was a dachshund who belonged to a friend of Picasso. The artist and the wiener dog made a loving connection, with Picasso portraying Lump in many of his pieces. Lump also is the only known individual to ever have eaten a piece of art by Picasso. Which serves Picasso right for using a sugary cake box to construct it. The simplicity of this tattoo, done in a single line, is a natural choice for dachshund lovers as well as fans of Picasso’s period of simple, clean line drawings.

5. Paul Klee’s Siblings

This isn’t a completely faithful copy of Klee’s original (also called “Brother and Sister”); the tattoo artist chose his own coloration. But the message Klee laid down is still there. Your siblings; you have tangled, blurred and inextricable relationships with each other. Still you might find beauty in them. Or just chaos. Klee, who had one sister, finished this piece in 1930.

6. Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase

Jay Wheeler / Wikiart

Marcel Duchamp is the kind of artist who can just infuriate people. Not for being vulgar or controversial, but for slapping an upside-down urinal or a wheel stuck to the top of a stool in a museum and calling it “art.” And getting away with it. Much of Duchamp’s work wasn’t about pleasant aesthetics. It was about providing the viewer with a genuine WTH? moment. Nude Descending a Staircase caused a huge reaction when it went on display in New York in 1913. Because, as one reviewer described, it looked like “an explosion at a shingle factory.” It wasn’t that it was ugly; Cubism was already a recognizable form. It was the frustration. Duchamp triggered the audience’s sexual curiosity and fascination with the taboo, and then didn’t satisfy it. Or maybe he did?

7. Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross

Miguel Angel / Wikiart

Salvatore Dali was more than just the melty-clocks guy. This most peculiar yet strangely reverent take on an extremely familiar image proves that. Dali claimed the idea for the painting came to him in a dream. Drawing inspiration from a 19th century sketch done by a Spanish monk, Dali set about creating one of the most unique takes on Christ’s crucifixion ever set to canvas. It is notable that there is no blood, no nails, nothing that would distract from the theretofore unthinkable downward (Godlike?) perspective of the scene. And most unusual: how many of the 1000s of depictions of Christ’s death don’t show His face? In addition to the endless religious and philosophical discussions you could trigger by taking your shirt off and showing this at dinner parties, you can add geometry to the conversation. Dali certainly did, saying, “I devised a geometrical construct comprising a triangle and a circle, the aesthetic sum total of all my previous experience, and put my Christ inside the triangle.”

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5-Year-Old Boy Hugs, Then Destroys, a $132,000 Sculpture When His Parents Aren't Looking
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A 5-year-old boy's playful mistake may end up costing his parents a small fortune. As ABC News reports, the boy knocked over and destroyed a valuable piece of art on display in the lobby of the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas. Now, the city's insurance company is asking them to pay for it.

The parents were preparing to leave a wedding reception as their son was filmed running around the building's lobby. At one point in the security footage, he can be seen stopping to embrace a sculpture, titled Aphrodite di Kansas City, which causes it to fall towards him and onto the ground.

According to Overland Park's insurance company, the piece was damaged irreparably by the fall. It had been listed at a price of $132,000, and a few days after the incident, the parents received a claim asking them to cover the entire cost.

“You’re responsible for the supervision of a minor child […] your failure to monitor could be considered negligent,” the letter read.

The couple disputed the accusation, instead blaming the community center for not better securing the sculpture. As for the chances of the Aphrodite di Kansas City being repaired or rebuilt, local artist Bill Lyons said it isn't likely. He spent two years creating the original piece, and after declaring it permanently destroyed, he told ABC News he doesn't have the drive or capacity to make a new one.

It isn't just rambunctious 5-year-olds who have been known to ruin expensive art. Grown-up museum visitors, whether they're tripping over untied shoelaces or getting in position for the perfect selfie, can be just as destructive.

[h/t ABC News]

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8 Things You Might Not Know About The Wizard of Id
Titan Books
Titan Books

Debuting in 1964, Brant Parker and Johnny Hart’s The Wizard of Id took a page from the macabre humor of cartoonist Charles Addams. Ruling the kingdom of Id, a pint-sized tyrant uses humor to disarm a medieval cast made up of a jester, an executioner, a thief, and the titular magician, whose spells don’t usually impress. Although Hart and Parker both passed away in 2007, their black humor lives on. Take a look at some facts behind the throne, including the time Jim Henson almost brought it to television.

1. THE IDEA FOR THE STRIP CAME FROM A DECK OF PLAYING CARDS.

Johnny Hart was already a successful syndicated cartoonist (the Stone Age comedy B.C.) before he and former Disney animator Brant Parker decided to collaborate on a different project. Hart was flipping through a deck of playing cards in 1964 when he came across a peculiar illustration used for the king. Drawing on it to create his own diminutive despot, Hart wrote most of the jokes for Id while Parker illustrated it.

2. THE SYNDICATE THOUGHT THE TWO ARTISTS WERE DISGUSTING.

Although Id would eventually be syndicated to over 1000 strips across the country, Hart and Parker first had to get past the gatekeepers of cartoon distribution operating out of New York. Traveling to the city to show them samples, the two worked late into the night and called to tell executives they were ready. They didn’t know the syndicate would be coming to their hotel room, which was a mess of papers, food, and beer bottles. Caught off-guard, the men looked like transients. “We think you guys are disgusting,” one executive said, “but we love the strip. We’ll take it.”

3. THE SHORT JOKES WERE BASED ON JOHNNY HART.

In a visual juxtaposition, the king of Id’s height is inversely proportional to his power. Parker said the character’s stature was based partly on Hart, who used to fend off jokes about his own height. "The king became short because we used to kid John about being short and a lot of the short gags began to slide over into the strip," Parker said. "He just kept getting smaller, and as he shrunk, the nose got bigger and bigger."

4. A LITTLE GIRL GOT THEM TO DROP A CHARACTER.

Most of the humor in Id is centered around the morbid dynamics of Middle Ages politics, which is not normally an opportunity to offend current sensibilities. But early on, Parker and Hart created a karate teacher from Japan who was perceived by some as a stereotype. When Parker received a letter from a young Japanese-American girl who was being teased at school as a result of the character, the creators decided to drop him from the strip.

5. JIM HENSON WAS GOING TO PUT IT ON TELEVISION.

An avowed fan of comic strips and of The Wizard of Id in particular, Muppets creator Jim Henson met with Hart in 1968 to discuss a possible collaboration. Henson wanted to create an Id television show that would use puppets against an animated backdrop. Hart agreed, and in 1969, Henson was able to shoot test footage featuring himself as the voice of the Wizard. But executives at Publishers-Hall, which had taken over syndication of the strip, were having trouble enticing networks into producing a series. By the time ABC showed interest, Henson had moved on to Sesame Street and other projects. Wizard of Id got translated into animation in 1970 as part of a Chuck Jones variety series titled Curiosity Shop.

6. HART TURNED DOWN FEATURE FILM OFFERS.

Possibly disappointed in the outcome of the Henson project, Hart wasn’t very receptive to offers to adapt Id into other mediums. He reportedly shunned Steven Spielberg and Norman Lear when they called about adaptations. Producer Andrew Gaty managed to interest Hart in 1987, though his plans for a live-action feature—possibly starring Danny DeVito as the king—never came to fruition.

7. IT WAS A (STRANGE) VIDEO GAME.

In 1984, users of the ColecoVision home computer system were able to pick up a software program with an unwieldy title: The Wizard of Id’s Wiz Math. The edutainment program allowed players to brush up on math skills by solving problems faced by Spookingdorf, the tortured and jailed cast member of the strip. By solving math problems, players could navigate Spookingdorf out of his dungeon. The game was produced by Sierra, which later became known for its King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry franchises. A typing game, WizType, was also released.

8. BLONDIE AND BEETLE BAILEY CELEBRATED THE STRIP'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY.

When The Wizard of Id passed the half-century milestone in 2014, the entire comics page came out to celebrate. Hi and Lois featured a portrait of the Wizard in a panel, while Blondie and Family Circus made subtle references to the anniversary. (As modern-day strips, it would be difficult to regard a medieval strip with more overt acknowledgment.) In Beetle Bailey, the perennial screw-up shared a cell with the eternally suffering Spookingdorf.

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