Art Seen

7 Artists Who Give Classic Art A Modern Twist

When masterpieces and pop culture collide.

Classic art spans across generations, inspiring both young and old. Timeless art is difficult to accomplish, but when it's given a modern twist, it somehow reinvents itself without letting go of its original beauty.


These seven artists have mastered the reinvention of classic artwork such as Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night" and Grant Wood's "American Gothic." Whether they use traditional canvases or things such as cakes to illustrate their classic art reboots is completely their choice. Either way, their new interpretations offer a fresh way of looking at historical art.

1. Aja Trier

Aja Trier is known for inserting pop culture references against a recognizable sky. After an education blog erroneously credited Trier's painting of the Eiffel Tower as a piece by van Gogh, the fine artist — who resides in Scotia, New York — began asking herself, "What else did van Gogh not see?"

With that, Trier's series was born and includes works such as "Van Gogh Never Saw Woodstock" and "Van Gogh Never Sat on the Dock of the Bay."

"Through the utilization of various media, I work through the night when much of the world around me is fast asleep to convey my vision," she wrote on her website.

2. Emily Zauzmer

For artist Emily Zauzmer, recreating classic art is a piece of cake … literally.

As a Harvard University student, Zauzmer found a way to ease the stresses of everyday Ivy League school life by combining two things she loves: art and baking.

With the use of icing, the young artist creates replicas of classic portraits such as Wood's "American Gothic" and Edvard Munch's "The Scream."

"I really look forward to it," she said in a previous interview about her artistic expression that takes anywhere between 12 hours and four days to complete. "Because, with school, there's so much work all the times."

3. Lothlenan

Rather than recreate some of the world's most famous works, Lothlenan transforms them in his own style, pulling from fantasy and pop culture references such as Sailor Moon and Adventure Time to place characters into paintings by Oscar-Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, and more.

So, if you ever imagined what Rick and Morty characters would look like in Munch's "The Scream," imagine no further. The self-described art history nerd and world citizen, who hails from Estonia and Canada, says he's a "seeker of chai and London fogs." But his art suggests he's seeking a lot more, like giving Mona Lisa a whole new, modern look that captures the essence of today's animation while honoring the classic piece.

4. Dan Cretu

Romania-based conceptual artist Dan Cretu has found an intersection between classical paintings and modern pop culture symbols. Think Monet's Water Lillies with money instead of flowers.

While he describes himself as a food artist and illustrator, the way Cretu merges historic art with pop culture takes on a life all its own. Pieces such as Marge Simpson, whose blue hair is a bud of marijuana, show his comical side. While others push the bar on his political views, such as Frida Khalo standing behind "the wall."

5. If Paintings Could Text

Ever wonder what a subject in a classic art piece would text if given modern technologies like a smartphone? Yea, well so did the creator of the Tumblr blog If Paintings Could Text, which shares famous works of art accompanied by hilarious, likely drunk, text messages.  

While the artist behind the blog that's described as "A revival of classical art and epic texts," remains anonymous, the imagery paired with hilarious texts is statement enough.

Like the text that coincides with Salvador Dalí's classic "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory." "I don't know if we should get high tonight man. It's daylight savings. Time travel is just too much for me right now."

6. Olly Gibbs

Courtesy Olly Gibbs

Olly Gibbs wanted to put a smile on the otherwise serious faces of several subjects of classic art and the outcome is awesome. But the inspiration behind the art project was his own grimace.

"I get vertigo so I wasn't particularly happy being up there, especially with it being windy," Gibbs told A Plus in a previous interview about taking a photograph on top of a high church tower in Amsterdam.

With a quick FaceApp twist, Gibbs photo quickly transformed to be a smiling and happy moment caught on camera. This quick fix is exactly what classic art subjects needed. After finding "the grumpiest paintings and sculptures to brighten up," the London-based artist and his girlfriend had a collection of lighthearted, happy subjects that once appeared grim.

7. Freddy Fabris

Photographer Freddy Fabris was inspired to remix classic art after a visit to an automotive shop. By mimicking masterpieces like Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" and Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" with present-day figures such as a mechanic, Fabris was able to share his vision through a modern lens.

The award-winning photographer was born in New York, raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is now based in Chicago. He's an established name in the advertising industry and specializes in conceptual campaigns, cars, and people.

"Being successful is being able to come up with an idea, and one month later look at the results and be happy with them," he said in a previous interview. "It's being happy with what you do and with yourself."


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