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Tisha Cherry, Instagram

15 Fun Re-Creations of, and Homages to, Famous Paintings

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Tisha Cherry, Instagram

There are plenty of ways to make and enjoy art. Famous paintings can often see new life in fresh forms like cakes, gifs, and interactive websites. Here's how some people paid tribute to their favorite famous painters.

1. GIFS

Dutch artist Kajetan Obarski takes the works of artists like Francisco Goya and René Magritte and transforms them into wacky gifs, which often include modern twists and humorous spins on the original piece. For example, you can see Leonardo da Vinci messing around on Photoshop or Magritte’s Golconda being reported on the news. Often the gifs are dark and a little gory. “No matter what I animate, there’s always a little bit of my venom in it,” Obarski told Hyperallergic. “I’m a nice guy but at the same time I’m a malicious grumpy gnome.”

2. CAKE

Anything can be a canvas, even a cake. Food artist Maria A. Aristidou arms herself with a paintbrush and transforms cakes into masterpieces. The gorgeous desserts were made for Vienna Boutique Cake Gallery in Larnaka, Cyprus. The artist has painted Starry Night, The Scream, The Persistence of Memory, and others onto the fondant frostings of multi-tiered cakes. Cakes aside, Aristidou is also known for her work with coffee, which you can check out here.

3. HAIR

It seems like hair colors can be inspired by anything from galaxies to sunsets. Kansas-based hairdresser Ursula Goff considers herself an art history buff, so she gets her color palette ideas from iconic works of art. For example, she channels Vincent van Gogh by dyeing hair with various hues of blue, yellow, and green to mirror Starry Night. With murky greens and teals, she can recreate Claude Monet’s water lily series. Her fine art series also comes with captions, giving readers a short history lesson to go along with the hair. You can check out the whole collection on her Instagram.

4. COCKTAILS

Artesian / The Langham

It turns out, the frothy tops of egg white cocktails are perfect canvases for fine art. Mixologist Rajendra “Rush” Limbu of the Artesian lounge, inside the Langham Hotel in Hong Kong, creates gorgeous cocktails that are actually intricate homages to famous artists Piet Mondrian, Vincent van Gogh, and Salvador Dalí. The drinks are made using ingredients that are chosen to reflect the art.

5. EMBROIDERY

Australian artist Lauren Spark took on the challenge of bringing a timeless piece of art to an embroidery hoop with this faithful recreation of van Gogh’s Starry Night. Using Google Cultural Institute’s high resolution views of the painting, Spark was able to replicate all the important details van Gogh put into his iconic work. The elaborate creation took 60 hours to complete.

6. DOMINOES

Watching videos of dominoes falling is so satisfying because it’s all the payoff with none of the hard work. This particular video is extra special because when all the pieces fall, it reveals van Gogh’s Starry Night. (If you can’t tell from this list yet, people really love that painting.) The video was created by YouTuber FlippyCat, who has also has a Mona Lisa version.

7. SEEDS

Love miniature art? You’re going to really like Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa squished onto a pumpkin seed. The impossibly tiny painting was created by Russian artist Salavat Fidai who has a series called Famous Paintings On Miniatures. Some other creations include the Mona Lisa and The Scream. Fidai is such an expert at miniature art that he can also carve detailed figures out of pencil graphite.

8. OREOS

With so many crazy Oreo flavors on the market these days, there are more frosting colors to work with than ever before. Artist Tisha Cherry uses these interestingly hued frostings to create Oreo art. Many of her creations are pop culture icons or logos, but she also recreates famous paintings by Frida Kahlo, Rene Magritte, and more. Cherry uses a toothpick to move the frosting around and shape it into tiny masterpieces. While they look pretty, they probably don’t taste great, considering the artist mixes together frosting flavors like pumpkin and mint.

9. COFFEE

Yelp

Stop by Hugo Coffee in Park City, Utah and you can enjoy some adorable latte art featuring a paw print (the café’s mascot is a dog). But that’s not at all you can get: According to one Yelper, you might be lucky enough to get Starry Night swirled into your coffee. Other baristas have recreated artwork like The Scream and Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory.

10. ÉCLAIRS

If you stop by the Paris bakery Fauchon, you can get an eye (and mouth)-full of some seriously gorgeous éclairs. The traditional French pastry works nicely as a tasty canvas for all sorts of designs, like The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Each design is printed with edible ink onto fondant.

11. INTERACTIVE RECREATIONS

Screenshot

Thanks to the internet, there are countless new ways to enjoy art. Just look at these interactive versions of Starry Night and Garden of Earthly Delights. There’s a lot to unpack with Bosch’s triptych, and every inch of the painting is more confounding and bizarre than the last. A team of filmmakers, photographers, and art historians that worked on the documentary Hieronymus Bosch, Touched by the Devil helped bring an interactive website to life that will walk you through each section. You can click on over 40 different sections of the painting to hear an audio essay explaining the context and symbolism of what’s depicted.

The Starry Night rendition is less informative, but just as entertaining. Greek digital artist Petros Vrellis made a moving version of the painting that swirls and shifts when touched. With a simple swipe, the thick brushstrokes warp and change. You can play with the painting yourself on your phone by downloading an app from Google Play or iTunes.

12. NEWSPRINT

Korean artist Lee Kyu-Hak imitates the thick brushstrokes of van Gogh by wrapping thin blocks of wood in colorful newsprint. The collages were recently featured in the New York gallery Blank Space.

13. HOTEL

Art Institute of Chicago

Looking at (and sometimes eating) art is fun, but what if you could sleep in it? Art Institute of Chicago and Airbnb teamed up to make van Gogh’s famous bedroom (from his series Bedroom in Arles) a real-life room that you can really sleep in. The mind-bending room managed to successfully recreate the topsy-turvy perspective and streaky painted surfaces. The room, which could be found in Chicago's River North neighborhood, was available to rent on Airbnb for $10 until May 10. It was created in honor of Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibit “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms.” The event featured all three paintings van Gogh created of his now-famous bedroom, which had never been displayed together in the United States before.

14. LEGO

Italian artist Marco Sodano recreates famous paintings using LEGO bricks. The result is a series of pixilated works that strongly resembles the original paintings, despite being stripped down to minimalistic shapes. The artist’s main idea was that any child using LEGO bricks could be as good an artist as Leonardo da Vinci or Vincent van Gogh. The work caught the eye of LEGO, who decided to use the artwork in an ad campaign.

15. SOCKS

Amazon

Wear famous paintings from master artists like Manet and Munch right on your feet with the help of art-inspired socks. There are a number of different sellers on Amazon that can supply you with dozens of pairs of artistic footwear, and you can check out all the options here. Some of our favorites include Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Klimt’s The Kiss.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.406E
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New Smithsonian Exhibit Explains Why Felines Were the Cat's Meow in Ancient Egypt
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Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.406E

From bi-coastal cat cafes to celebrity pets like Lil Bub, felines are currently enjoying a peak moment in popular culture. That’s part of the reason why curators at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery—which will re-open to visitors on Saturday, October 14, following a 3-month closure—decided to dedicate a new exhibition to ancient Egypt’s relationship with the animals.

Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt” looks at the cultural and religious importance of cats, which the Egyptians appreciated long before YouTube was a thing and #caturday was a hashtag. It's based on a traveling exhibition that began at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. On view until January 15, 2018, it's one of several exhibits that will kick off the grand reopening of the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries, the conjoined national museums of Asian and Middle Eastern Art.

The Freer has been closed since January 2016 for major renovations, and the Sackler since July 2016 for minor ones. The upgraded institutions will make their public debut on October 14, and be feted by a free two-day festival on the National Mall.

Featuring 80 artworks and relics, ranging from figurines of leonine deities to the tiny coffins of beloved pets, "Divine Felines" even has a cat mummy on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. These objects span from the Middle Kingdom (2008 to 1630 BCE) to the Byzantine period (395 to 642 CE).

An ancient Egyptian metal weight shaped like a cat, dating back to 305 to 30 BCE, on view at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Weight in Form of a Cat, 305 to 30 BCE, Bronze, silver, lead
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

The term “cat” is used loosely, as the Egyptians celebrated domestic mousers and fearsome predators alike.

“The Egyptians were close observers of nature, so they were observing cat behaviors,” Antonietta Catanzariti, the exhibition's in-house curator, tells Mental Floss. “They noticed that cats and lions— in general, felines—have aggressive and protective aspects, so they associated those attributes to deities.”

The ancient Egyptians viewed their gods as humans, animals, or mixed forms. Several of these pantheon members were both associated with and depicted as cats, including Bastet, the goddess of motherhood, fertility, and protection; and Sakhmet, the goddess of war and—when appeased—healing. She typically has a lion head, but in some myths she appears as a pacified cat.

A limestone sculptor's model of a walking lion, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Sculptor's Model of a Walking Lion, ca. 664 to 630 BCE, limestone
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.190

While Bastet was a nurturer, Sakhmet—whose name means “The Powerful One”—could use her mighty force to either slay or safeguard humanity. These characterizations are typical of the ancient Egyptian worldview, which perceived the universe in dualistic terms. “There’s always a positive and a negative,” Catanzariti explains.

Contrary to popular belief, however, ancient Egyptians did not view cats themselves as gods. “The goddess Sakhmet does have the features as a lion, or in some cases as a cat, but that doesn’t mean that the Egyptians were worshipping cats or lions,” Catanzariti says. Instead, they were simply noting and admiring her feline traits. This practice, to an extent, also extended to royalty. Kings were associated with lions and other large cats, as they were the powerful protectors of ancient Egypt’s borders.

These myriad associations prompted Egyptians to adorn palaces, temples, protective amulets, ceremonial vessels, and accessories with cat images. Depending on their context, these renderings symbolized everything from protection and power to beauty and sexuality. A king’s throne might have a lion-shaped support, for example, whereas a woman’s cosmetics case might be emblazoned with a cat-headed female goddess of motherhood and fertility.

An ancient Egyptian figurine of a standing lion-headed goddess, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Figurine of a Standing Lion-Headed Goddess, 664 to 630 BCE, Faience
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.943E

While cats were linked with heavenly figures and kings, they were also popular domestic pets. Their ability to catch vermin made them an important addition to households, and owners loved and anthropomorphized their pets just like we do today.

Egyptians often named, or nicknamed, their children after animals; Miit (cat) was a popular moniker for girls. It's said that entire households shaved their eyebrows in mourning if a house cat died a natural death. Some also believe that cats received special legal protection. (Not all cats were this lucky, however, as some temples bred kittens specifically to offer their mummified forms to the gods.) If a favorite cat died, the Egyptians would bury them in special decorated coffins, containers, and boxes. King Tutankhamen, for example, had a stone sarcophagus constructed just for his pet feline.

An ancient Egyptian bronze cat head adorned with gold jewelry, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Cat's Head, 30 BCE. to third century CE, bronze, gold
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

“Divine Felines” breaks down these facts, and more, into five thematic sections, including “Cats and Kings"; “Cats and Gods”; “Cats and Death”; “Cats and Protection”; and “Dogs as Guardians and Hunters.” Yes, there’s also an exhibition section for dog lovers—“a small one,” Catanzariti laughs, that explains why canines were associated with figures like Anubis, the jackal-headed god of mummification and the afterlife.

Did the ancient Egyptians prefer cats to dogs? “I would say that both of them had different roles,” Catanzariti says, as dogs were valued as hunters, scavengers, and guards. “They were appreciated in different ways for their ability to protect or be useful for the Egyptian culture.” In this way, "Divine Felines" is targeted to ailurophiles and canophiliacs alike, even if it's packaged with pointed ears and whiskers.

An ancient Egyptian cat coffin, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Coffin for a Cat, 664 to 332 BCE, or later, Wood, gesso, paint, animal remains
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1944Ea-b

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