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VOLODYMYR SHUVAYEV/AFP/Getty Images
VOLODYMYR SHUVAYEV/AFP/Getty Images

Sculptor Transforms Lenin Monument Into Darth Vader

VOLODYMYR SHUVAYEV/AFP/Getty Images
VOLODYMYR SHUVAYEV/AFP/Getty Images

On April 9, 2015, the Ukrainian Parliament passed a bill that called for the removal of all Communist and Nazi symbols and propaganda within six months of the president's signing. According to the BBC, that meant that hundreds of statues and millions of street signs would have to go, a process that could not be completed overnight. Before one statue of former Communist leader Vladimir Lenin could be removed, Ukrainian sculptor Alexander Milov decided to transform the monument so that it resembles another controversial political leader: Darth Vader.

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"I wanted to make a symbol of American pop culture which appears to be more durable than the Soviet ideal," Milov told the BBC"We are non-political, but we decided with one shot to kill two hares, as the Russian saying goes. To save the Lenin monument but also take it away from the eyes—to make a new art piece with a new sense."

To make the statue, Milov reinforced the original, added a titanium alloy helmet and cape, and installed a router in the helmet so that the Sith Lord can beam free Wi-Fi from his head to anyone within range.

The artist says that he chose the Imperial leader as the focus of the new statue because "at this moment Darth Vader is a political figure in Ukraine." In the country's 2014 parliamentary election, 16 candidates named Darth Vader registered, as did one Yoda and a Chewbacca. Several of the candidates had legally changed their names to those of the Star Wars characters—in fact, Chewbacca was recently detained and fined for driving without documents while taking one Vader to the mayoral elections in Odessa.

Milov says that his ultimate goal is to recycle more of these banned statues: 

"We are gathering all these statues—like Lenin—and we would like to make a park of forlorn heroes of the epoch … I want to take the statues out of the central squares of cities and put them in a different place like Disneyland, where they can be visited. It seems to me that if these statues are destroyed, people coming after us will have no possibility to make conclusions for themselves as to whether people needed them or not."

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The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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