Home Is Where the Art Is
In the early spring of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to rage, widespread quarantines kept people inside their homes, and closed down all but essential businesses, including theaters and museums. Once cabin fever set in, many of us took to creative pursuits like solving giant jigsaw puzzles and baking artisanal breads. Some of us took to art mimicry -- that is, recreating famous works of art using bedspreads, pets, coffee pots and toilet paper.
The roommates who run Covidclassics on Instagram pioneered the challenge with their ingenious takes on such classics as David’s “The Death of Marat” and Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” They immediately attracted thousands of followers. I mean what else did we have to do besides Zoom meetings and wine shop runs?
With the game on, the Dutch Instagram account Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine (“between art and quarantine”), issued this creative challenge: “When you're working from home and the walls come climbing in. Here's some homemade art. 1. Choose your artwork, 2. Use 3 props from your home, 3. Share @tussenkunstenquarantaine -- (No photoshop).” In two months, more than 600 homemade recreations of masterpieces from Renaissance art to modern photography were posted. The results were stunning and often hilarious.
Right away, L.A.'s Getty Museum issued a challenge to its Twitter followers to recreate a work of art from their collection, using “objects (and people) in your home.” Hordes of art lovers from around the world responded by posting their clever tableaux vivants of famous paintings, sculptures, pottery and even religious icons to the the site. Some used kids and kittens, others were nearly indistinguishable from the originals. The incoming posts averaged 100 per day. The museum’s curators chose their favorites in December.
If the pandemic had a silver (or tin foil) lining, it was this new engagement with art by millions of homebound creatives who were sharing their fun and memorable images online as well as perking up many family photo albums.
Photos: (Top) Edvard Munch, “The Scream” (1893). Re-creation: @wanderwithnada; Rene Magritte, “The Son of Man” (1964). Re-creation: @covidclassics; Michiel Sweerts, “Head of a Woman" (c. 1654). Re-creation: M. Spencer.