Masters Interpreted in Photos

“Self Portrait 1889″, Vincent van Gogh – remake by Seth Johnson

“Self Portrait 1889″, Vincent van Gogh – remake by Seth Johnson

We’ve all often heard that one of the best ways to grow as an artist is to study the Masters. Many art teachers go so far as to have their students replicate master works. The idea is that once we can understand the thought processes and the technique, we can apply them to our own work. While I, myself, have never done this, I do remember doing my own “interpretations” of some classic art pieces. Re-interpretations, if you will.

Now that my art form of choice is photography I’ve often thought about how I can apply that to my new favorite medium. My first thought is that I will begin a series based on the work of Mark Rothko. I’ve always admired his use of color to derive raw emotion from the viewer. His work is characterized as “abstract” but in truth there’s nothing abstract about it. The emotion is the clear subject. I’d like to see if I can achieve that with images. The task will be to layer images, textures and colors so that all is left will be the feeling.

Mark Rothko - Green and Tangerine on red

Mark Rothko – Green and Tangerine on red

Another artist I love is Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. At first glance his work might seem a far cry from Rothko, but to me they are not. Emotion, raw and sometimes dark, still plays the major role with the support coming from the use of color. Of course, reinterpreting his work in photos will require a much different approach, one which I haven’t completely figured out. The obvious is staging scenes with models. But thoughts of street photography are what seem more like a natural interpretation. We’ll see..

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Berlin Street

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Berlin Street

Meanwhile here are some great examples and posts I’ve found on master reworks in photography. Enjoy! Maybe you’ll find some reinterpretation ideas of your own!

http://petapixel.com/2011/11/16/portraits-that-recreate-paintings-by-the-old-masters/

http://justsomething.co/22-famous-paintings-revisited-as-photographs/

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