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Masters Revisited By Contemporary Artists
Get inspired 19 May 2015

Masters Revisited By Contemporary Artists

Does art have a supreme mission? A duty to its public? A guiding principle? This question, which has long obsessed a large number of artists; great masters, philosophers and intellectuals from all genres, has, alas, no answer. The emergence of abstract art with Kandinsky’s Black Arch in 1912 and of conceptual art with Duchamp’s Fountain in 1917 has considerably blurred the lines . More than ever, art is without limit, without definition, without rules.

However, it is indeed possible to find common characteristics in all forms of art: notably, the implementation of a certain technique and the search for originality. But originality in art is a strange concept. Nothing is ever completely original, coming out of nothingness. Reference to the past is inevitable. References to the past are everywhere. And, at times, reference to the past is desired, insisted, demanded.

In the selection of works Artsper wanted to present to you, the artists were inspired by great masters’ classic paintings, and reinterpreted their messages or their techniques. An interesting artistic approach in a world taking huge leaps forward.

Work #1

“French blood flowed. He asked to be avenged,” General Murat said May 2, 1808. After the revolt of May 2, 1808 in Madrid, Napoleonic troops executed 400 Spanish rebels.

El Tres de Mayo by Goya (1814), sponsored by the Spanish government at the suggestion of the artist, celebrates their sacrifice. It is considered the first great revolutionary work of its style, subject and intent.

great masters contemporary art

Execution, by Yeu Minjun (1995) who takes up this work and adapts it to his personal history. Witness the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square in 1989 as it responds to the violence with laughter. Here instead, in a place that curiously reminds us of Tiananmen in front of the Forbidden City, young students giggle while being shot. Without a doubt, this is a revolutionary inspired work and updates perfectly with the work of Goya!

great masters contemporary art

Work #2

The Death of Marat, by Jacques Louis David (1793,) is the revolutionary image of Marat assassinated in his bathtub. “To Marat” is written on the box in front of the bathtub and comes as a tombstone.

great masters contemporary art

In the work “A David!” by Cesar Santos (2013), the artist has chosen to represent Marat’s suicide in his bathtub while he holds a drawing in the manner of David in his hand. On the box that evokes a tombstone, there is an inscription saying “To David! “, and just above is a mercantile connotation icon. This is a classical painting showing him murdered and the consumer society that seems to bury him.

The painter created a critical market for contemporary art. Behind the suicide painter, you can see the works of iconic artists of our 21st century whose presence seems quite ironic. Whether you look at Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami or Yue Minjun, their works serve as qualitative benchmarks within the art market today.

great masters contemporary art

Work #3

Ambassadors by Hoblein Hans the Younger (1553), is an enigmatic painting of great complexity. It brings Hoblein back among the great masters of painting. Representing a well-identified historical anecdote (John Dinteville and Georges de Selve, French ambassadors to the Court of London), the work is like a deal that goes wrong! A guitar string is broken, Dinteville wears a skull-shaped brooch and Brittany is written on the globe. It shows that all science and the arts are only vanities! The anamorphic skull in the foreground is what reminds us.

great masters contemporary art

In his series Fuck the Masters, Vincent Corpet likes to revisit paintings of great masters. In this version of Ambassadors (2013), he created a complex network of colored shapes, hiding and revealing some details of the painting and creating a new vision of the work.

great masters contemporary art

Work # 4

The Sleeping Venus by Giorgione (1510), is a famous painting full of sensuality and ambiguity. Is this Venus really sleeping? Or does she close her eyes from the pleasure of touching? Why does she turn slightly towards us if it is not to seduce us? This is the first time that such an erotic nude is presented in Christian times; its supposedly mythological theme appears as a pretext to make it alright to show the nakedness of a woman.

great masters

With Red Venus (1986), the Russian artist, Alexander Kosolapov, reflects work in a communist propaganda style, but for what purpose? To seduce?


Work # 5

Les Ménines is one of the most famous paintings by the Spanish painter Diego Velasquez who was one of the greatest masters of painting. Painted in 1656 and representing the family and entourage of Philip IV, King of Spain, it is one of the most commented works in the history of art. With its intriguing complexity, it is called the “theology of painting” by some.

great masters

Pablo Picasso introduced his version in 1957.


And more recently (1992), Manolo Valdes sculpted Les Ménines. The sculpture shows the curves of the clothing and the appearance of the Infant of Spain; her and her dwarf companion.