Art History’s Greatest Portraits, Starring Mr. Bean
Move over John Malkovich, it’s Mr. Bean’s turn in the art-historical spotlight. Much like the American actor, who recently collaborated with photographer Sandro Miller to recreate famous celebrity photographs (see “John Malkovich Impersonates Celebrities for Portrait Show“), British comedian Rowan Atkinson—best known for playing Mr. Bean—has been recast as the star of historic portraits by Bronzino, Hans Holbein the Younger, and others, reports Dangerous Minds.
The seamlessly created mashup paintings are the work of Rodney Pike, whose bread and butter is manipulating celebrity portraits into exaggerated, stereotypical caricatures of themselves, highlighting the unflattering features of everyone from Pope Francis to Bill Murray. Pike has a particular affinity for Mr. Bean, however, and has Photoshopped him into over 30 famous paintings, sometimes also adding in scandalous modern touches like lacy black underwear.
Part of the challenge for Pike lies in the finite number of photos of Mr. Bean, as Atkinson has long since retired the character. Despite limited Bean resources, Pike has subbed in the silent, childish character for such disparate figures as George Washington, Rembrandt van Rijn, and the Mona Lisa.
The celebrity art historical mashup has become a popular genre of late, between Malkovich and Renaissance Beyoncé from the “Carter Family Portraits” series (see “7 Art Historical Tumblr Blogs Reviewed“)—and we never even touched pin-up girl Robert Downey Jr.!
Admittedly, there is something strangely captivating about a celebrity face transposed into a new yet familiar context that makes this sort of work almost irresistible. As Pike writes in his blog post about the Mr. Bean project: “I have no idea where it will end or if it will ever end. As long as people keep reacting to him as they have, I will continue use that unforgettable face to terrorize the art community.”
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