Art History Through Sci Fi-Colored Glasses

Pastiche? Mash-up? The best form of flattery? Whatever you want to call it, artists have enjoyed riffing on historical paintings for ages. For some, it’s a fun way to learn and explore issues of color, composition, and application of paint by intimately copying from a master. For others, it’s a means to tap into the feelings and emotions already assoctiated with the original image, (for humour or drama.) Seeing John Mattos’ great modernist takes on Star Wars made me want to seek out other views of science fiction via the classics. Here’s what I found….

John Mattos took on Marcel Duchamp’s mechanically abstracted Nude Descending a Staircase and brilliantly reset it with C3PO. Then took Pablo Picasso’s Three Musicians to the Star Wars’ Cantina. 

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Tim O’Brien hears his master’s robotic voice.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Abbott Handerson Thayer, often noted as a painter of angels, punked up a bit by Greg Manchess. Unrelated but interesting, Thayer invented camouflage. (Greg’s version is available as a desktop wallpaper.)

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Cyril van der Haegen inserts unspeakable evil into N. C. Wyeth’s “The Giant.”

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

It’s a tough race to see what has been parodied more: the Mona Lisa, American Gothic, or Napoleon Crossing the Alps. Here is Michael Whelan’s extra charming take on the David classic for Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson’s novel Hoka.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Tristan Elwell invokes Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa for the cover to Jo Walton’s novel Tooth and Claw.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Thanks to Zelda Devon for pointing me to this William Stout, an homage to Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen’s “The White Bear King.”

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Arthur Suydam’s “Uncle Sam,” originated by James Montgomery Flagg.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

A super-sweet Halloween recasting of Norman Rockwell’s “The Runaway” by Luke Radi.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

There are numberous renditions of Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want,” part of his series based on Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms.” I couldn’t pass up this one from Carlos Pacheco, utilizing the most wholesome, all-American superheroes for this all-American scene.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Marvel did a marvelous (sorry) series of Wolverine paintings done in various styles. You should check them all out. This one by Paolo Rivera after Salvador Dali’s famous “The Persistence of Memory” (better known as That-Melting-Clock-Painting.)

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

The Muppets released a number of art history parody calendars. This one showing (the space alien) Gonzo as “Whistler’s Mother,” more formally known as “An Arrangment in Grey and Black.”

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Alan Beck has been charming con-goers for a long while with his Mouseopolitan Museum of Art — American, European, and pre-historic art, as well as movie classics, are all subject to Alan’s mouse-ification. Here we see John Singer Sargent’s scandalous (at the time) Madame X and Johannes Vermeer’s Lacemaker.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Ryan Pancoast recreated John Trumbull’s “Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton” (with Zombies) for Michael Stackpole’s At the Queens Command.

 

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Scott Altmann does all kinds of mash-ups here — Twilight meets Grant Woods’s American Gothic for Night Shade Books’s Garrison Keillor pastiche, The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Boris Vallejo taking on Boticelli’s Birth of Venus, AKA Venus on the Half Shell,  in service of Robert A. Heinlein’s “To Sail Beyond the Sunset”.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

 


 

Dave Seeley invokes Michelangelo’s Pietá in this Star Wars book cover.

Historical art redone with science fiction figures

Historical art redone with science fiction figures


Irene Gallo is the art director of Tor Books.

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