What if classical art had been painted a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? Well, I gave that question some thought, and here are my answer – famous paintings re-imagined for the time of the Galactic Empire, with Star Wars characters, of course.
I’ve never been the biggest art lover, but I have been a big Star Wars lover since the summer of ’77. This project started as just a bit of a giggle. However, it soon turned into something of an art history education for me. It didn’t take too long before I got hooked on finding out more about the classical paintings I was desecrating and the artists who painted them. I learned a lot and can now tell a Warhol from a hole in the ground.
A short apology to all those mortally offended by my Star Wars fan art. To the art appreciation crowd, I’m sorry. But then again, I found out even some of these old-masters used other people’s work as a basis for theirs. Yes, they did. And to you Jedi out there, just consider these “Special Editions.” I know how much you value those.
Disclaimer: some or all of the “facts” mentioned may be incorrect given my source is the ever-unreliable Internet, so don’t shoot the messenger!
The Scream in over six million forms of communication
If anyone was going to scream, it was always going to be Threepio. He’s such a drama queen.
Interesting fact: Munch painted four versions of The Scream using various media. It’s been the target of art thieves again and again.
The Anatomy Lesson by Dr. 2-1B
This one fitted perfectly. It’s like the components were made for each other.
Interesting fact: Dr. Tulp (whose place has been usurped by Dr 2-1B) was Amsterdam’s City Anatomist in 1632 when this was painted. He was allowed one public dissection each year, and the body had to be that of an executed criminal.
Girl with an E11 Blaster
I thought Scarlett Johansson was looking a little vulnerable here, and the addition of a blaster would see her safely around 17th century Amsterdam. Someone was bound to mug her for that pearl earring.
Interesting fact: Vermeer is though to have used a camera obscura to create his paintings. The Photoshop of its day? You decide.
Starry Fighter Night over the Rhone
Vincent van Gogh
Probably the least effort of any of these.
Interesting fact: Did you know Van Gogh cut off his own ear? You did? Oh well.
Chistina’s Moisture Farm
This was a quick and easy one to do in the end, although I spent days on variations that didn’t work as well.
Interesting fact: Christina here was a real person who suffered from polio and lived near Wyeth; hence she would drag herself around. Though she looks like a young girl in the painting, she was 55 years old at the time.
Tolstoy Ploughing (under the heal of the Galactic Empire)
Here’s where it all started. I was at a loose end one evening and thought it’d be a fun way to waste a few hours if I had Tolstoy plowing his field while under the watchful eye of the 501st Legion.
Interesting fact: Tolstoy actually enjoyed farm work and was also a dab hand at mending shoes.
Mos Eisley Nighthawks
Nighthawks immediately made me think of Mos Eisley Cantina; I could just hear the bartender calling “We don’t serve their kind here.”
Interesting fact: No surprise, but this isn’t Hopper’s painting at all. It’s a photograph of a Hopper display. I felt the original had been parodied often enough, so this gave a different perspective; now you can see Ponda Baba and Doctor Evazan.
La Princesse à l’ombrelle
There may be no underwear in space, but there are parasols; a princess has to keep that fair complexion somehow. The hair’s too dark in this, but I’m not going back to fix it now. Oh, how we wish George Lucas had felt that way.
Interesting fact: The original painting was created as a casual image rather than a formal portrait. An early snapshot.
Grand Moff Tarkin
Sir Henry Raeburn
This one’s “in the style of” rather than a direct desecration of something famous. I just thought Tarkin would probably have something like this hanging in his drawing room.
Interesting fact: This started life as a portrait of Sir John Sinclair, though only the background survives. Sir John was the author of Statistical Accounts of Scotland; History of the Public Revenue of the British Empire 1784 … sounds like a real page-turner.
Young Woman Reclining in Tatooine Costume
This isn’t a good representation of Manet’s style (far too realistic), but I do love Leia in her Brass Bikini … just like so many others.
Interesting fact: Manet based this on a famous painting by Goya, “Clothed Maja”. See, I told you artist weren’t/aren’t above a bit of plagiarism.
The Singing Jedi
This is undoubtedly my favorite of the twenty-one images here and is the only one I’ve bothered to have framed and mounted on my wall at home. It makes me smile.
Interesting fact: Jack is one of Britain’s most popular artists, yet is not taken seriously by the art establishment, perhaps due in part to the fact he’s a self-taught artist. Here’s some actual criticism: “brainless,” “not an artist,” and “he can’t paint, he just colors in.” Snobbery, in my opinion.
La Classe de danse avec Oola
I like the way the dancer at the front of the picture is looking down her nose at Oola like she doesn’t belong there … which, of course, she doesn’t.
Interesting fact: Edgar Degas painted some controversial pictures and held some controversial political views. I won’t go into them here, but feel free to look those up.
A Pyramid of Skulls
Let’s face it; this wouldn’t be the first time Threepio lost his head.
Interesting fact: Cezanne painted skulls on several occasions leading to the belief he was somewhat fixated by death.
Head of a Jedi
This is based on the painting “Head of a Dog.” I had to give my version the more generic term “Jedi” as I can find no indication of what exactly Yoda is.
Interesting fact: Renoir was the father of Pierre (actor), Jean (film maker), Claude (ceramic artist), and grandfather to Claude (son of Pierre and another film maker like his uncle Jean).
Solo I & II
Han shot first. He always shoots first.
Interesting fact: This is based on Elvis I & II. Recently, Warhol’s “Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)” sold for $81.9 million. Astounding.
Jedi’s Hand with a Reflecting Sphere
I was challenged to do an Escher by a friend. In his own words, he was “astonished” I’d been able to make anything of it.
Interesting fact: Reflecting spheres were a popular subject for Escher, and he used them as a subject several times. This is the most famous, though.
Winter Landscape with a Probe Droid
Caspar David Friedrich
No explanation is necessary… if you know your Star Wars.
Interesting fact: You can see discarded crutches in the original image. Look again, and you can see the owner praying at the foot of the cross, possibly dying. Interestingly, I’ve only just noticed him myself!
Social commentary or just a giggle? I’ll let you decide.
Interesting fact: Johns painted on a newsprint collage, covering three canvases, mounted on plywood board. Yes, I realise that’s not very interesting, but…
Obi Wan m’aider, vous êtes mon seul espoir
La fin… pour l’instant. Que la force soit avec vous.
Luke with the head of Anakin
This was the trickiest one to do and certainly took the most time. I’m not at all sure it’s true to the style of the original, but Caravaggio is a hard act to follow. The only entry that in any way acknowledges the existence of the prequel trilogy. There’s a good reason for that.
Interesting fact: Caravaggio’s life was like a soap opera. Go look it up.
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