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Classic Artists in the 21st Century – Thought Experiment

November 8, 2011

I was perusing some of the great artists and their works when a thought came to me – what would their equivalents be doing if they lived in the 21st century?

There is a common recurring theme; artists living out their lives in financial hardship, having their works rejected and dying relatively obscure (some may be lucky to receive recognition late in life). It is only then that their skills begin to be revered and their creations sell for millions of dollars. Some of the artists that fit the mould are Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet & Paul Cezanne.

So assuming that the same lack-of-recognition occurs to my chosen three artists who will be transformed into the new millennium, they will channel their skills in new directions. The artists I have chosen for tonight are Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)

Renoir’s fascination with capturing people in celebratory and festive scenes would place the artist into the modern equivalence – alcohol fuelled parties.

Renoirs would no longer depict working class Parisians waltzing & socializing on the open streets, as visible in the below artwork ‘Dance at Le moulin de la Galette’. Instead the booming dubstep tracks for the rowdy masses lining the streets at the Love Parade – Berlin, would deliver Renoir his inspirational moments. The defining Impressionistic short brush strokes are no longer the result of  artistic skill, but rather from the body shattering, deep bass emanating from the stage speakers four feet away.

The old pitiful pallet will stand little chance against the pulsating lasers and fluoro hairdos.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Le Moulin de la Galette

Renoir painting in the 21st century


‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ or as it is now known a ‘booze cruise’ would be a challenge for the new Renoir. In between avoiding the stumbling revellers on the deck and liquored-up youth spilling their drinks, Renoir must capture the dance-crazed crowd through the strobe lights. His only hope in capturing anyone long enough to put on paper are those party-goers that had one too many ‘roofie-coladas’ and are now out cold on the floor.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Luncheon of the Boating Party

Renoir at a modern boat party

Georges Seurat (1859–1891)

Georges Seurat, another fellow Frenchman. His arguably most famous work ‘Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’, which by the way has been parodied in a promotional poster for US version of the ‘The Office’, is one of those paintings that invites you to forget everything bothersome in life and simply join the crowd on the lush grass, soaking-in the setting suns rays.

Seurat Georges - A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

La Grande Jatte in 2011

Seurat is amazing at creating those picture-perfect postcard images that are dreamlike. And that is what they are – Seurat is the equivalent of the guy who takes those deceiving juice-soaking, mouth watering photographs of burgers for local fast-food chains. The above photograph of the same place still retains some of the beauty, but it can never match the otherworldly allurement that Seurat’s painting invokes.

He is a modern day real estate photographer, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary – the caravan into a chateau – the dull into the living.

If that doesn’t work out he can make an extra buck doing the same for the travel agencies.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525 – 9 September 1569)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Fight between Carnival and Lent

This bloke would really feel out of place having lived over 450 years ago, i am refering to Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Pieter is the original ‘Where’s Wally’ (Waldo to the Americans) creator, painting dozens and dozens of characters in a single art work. Red stripes weren’t in vague back then as blue was all the rage, but there was still that someone to find.

Here’s another painting of his:

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Calvary

So what is Bruegel destined to be if he were living today? You guessed it. Joining the rest of the ‘Where’s Wally’ team in a Korean sweatshop drawing Wally. Poor Bruegel would be cranking out new exciting challenges for the Western kids to solve in their spare time. That is life.

Where's Wally

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 16, 2011 10:07 am

    Oh, that’s gooood. You should do a Pt2 on this.

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