So You Think You Can Draw Pope Francis: Take a Look at These Portraits

Artists welcome Pope Francis in surprising ways.

Mauro Pallotta's Roman street art mural showing Pope Francis as a super hero. Photo: Tiziana Fabi, AFP/Getty Images.
Mauro Pallotta's Roman street art mural showing Pope Francis as a super hero.
Photo: Tiziana Fabi, AFP/Getty Images.
Pope Francis. Photo: Jeon Han, Korean Culture and Information Service, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pope Francis.
Photo: Jeon Han, Korean Culture and Information Service, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pope Francis has become an inspirational figure to people around the world since taking over for Pope Benedict XVI in March of 2013. Next week, Pope Francis will make his first journey to the US.

The pontiff’s activities will include addressing a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, DC, an inter-faith religious service at the 9/11 Memorial in New York, and a mass to mark the conclusion of the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

In honor of the historic trip, artnet News has compiled a selection of artworks inspired by the Pope.

Anthony VanArsdale, Pope Francis Portrait (2013). Photo: Anthony VanArsdale.

Anthony VanArsdale, Pope Francis Portrait (2013).
Photo: Anthony VanArsdale.

According the artist, Anthony VanArsdale, this painting of Pope Francis was a commission for the North American College in Rome. On his blog, VanArsdale writes that the work was completed in roughly two weeks, in order to ship it across the Atlantic by December 2013.

Pope Francis being added to the mural of Franks at Philadelphia bar Dirty Franks. Photo: Lauren Vidas, via Twitter.

Pope Francis being added to the mural of Franks at Philadelphia bar Dirty Franks.
Photo: Lauren Vidas, via Twitter.

Local Philadelphia dive bar Dirty Franks, founded in 1933, has a new addition to its wall of famous Franks: Pope Francis. David McShane created the Frank pantheon, which includes the likes of Franklin Roosevelt, Frank Zappa, Aretha Franklin, Frank Edwin “Tug” McGraw, and Frank Sinatra, among others.

Van Hecht-Nielsen, Pope Francis mural overlooking Madison Square Garden.  Photo: Gregory A. Shemitz, courtesy Catholic news Service/CNS Photo.

Van Hecht-Nielsen, Pope Francis mural overlooking Madison Square Garden.
Photo: Gregory A. Shemitz, courtesy Catholic news Service/CNS Photo.

Earlier this month, Van Hecht-Nielsen and a team of three painters hand painted a 180-foot version of the pope on the southern wall at 494 Fifth Avenue in New York. The mural, commissioned by the Diocese of Brooklyn to promote the #PopeInUSA and #PapaEnUSA hashtags, will be visible until October 5.

When the Pope says mass at Madison Square Garden next Friday, his photo-realistic likeness, visible from Penn Plaza, will tower over Midtown.

Caesar Viveros, <em>The Sacred Now: Faith and Family in the 21st Century</em>, for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.  Photo: Caesar Viveros, courtesy the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Caesar Viveros, The Sacred Now: Faith and Family in the 21st Century (rendering), for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Photo: Caesar Viveros, courtesy the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is also welcoming the Pope with a large scale artwork, this one from muralist Cesar Viveros. Inspired and co-sponsored by the World Meeting of Families, the 4,239 square feet work of art, titled The Sacred Now: Faith and Family in the 21st Century, will be painted in part during the meeting, and installed in November.

Perry Milou, <em>A Prayer for Peace</em> (2015), as seen on a World Meeting of Families poster.  Photo: Perry Milou, via Instagram.

Perry Milou, A Prayer for Peace (2015), as seen on a World Meeting of Families poster.
Photo: Perry Milou, via Instagram.

Perry Milou‘s portrait of Pope Francis waving at the public may be officially licensed, but the artist is coming under fire for basing the painting on a May 2013 photo of the pontiff taken for Getty Images by Franco Origlia. It’s similar to the situation Shepard Fairey was in with his Obama “HOPE” poster, which originated from an Associated Press photo. Following a lawsuit, the street artist was fined $25,000 and settled out of court.

Fair-use issues aside, Milou recently told the Trentonian that he plans to sell his Prayer for Peace for $1 million. “It’s not that easy to figure out how to market paintings you think you could sell for $2.5 million or $3 million,” he lamented to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’ve been praying to Jesus and to Adonai, the Jewish god, and to a higher power.”

Omkar Shivaprasad, <em>"POPE" Francis Illustration</em> (2013). Photo: Omkar Shivaprasad, Bombay Drift Art Blog.

Omkar Shivaprasad, “POPE” Francis Illustration (2013).
Photo: Omkar Shivaprasad, Bombay Drift Art Blog.

Pope Francis has also gotten the Obama treatment from the Bombay Drift Art Blog. The artist, Omkar Shivaprasad, seems aware that the image could spell trouble. In a March 2013 blog post sharing the creation, he wrote, “Don’t sue me. I don’t have any money.”

William Luna and Guillermo Rodriguez's Pope Francis mural in El Alto, Bolivia, was vandalized.

William Luna and Guillermo Rodriguez’s Pope Francis mural in El Alto, Bolivia, was vandalized.

In El Alto, Bolivia, William Luna and Guillermo Rodriguez painted a large-scale painting of the Pope prior to his visit to the country in July, but the artwork only came to our attention because it was quickly vandalized. A website called “Pope Francis the Destroyer” disseminated the photo of the damaged work with the caption “EVIL PORTENT: Pope Francis Mural In El Alto, Bolivia, Defaced With Blood Red Paint!”

Mauro Pallotta's Roman street art mural showing Pope Francis as a super hero. <br>Photo: Tiziana Fabi, AFP/Getty Images.

Mauro Pallotta’s Roman street art mural showing Pope Francis as a super hero.
Photo: Vatican Communication.

Even the Vatican approves of Mauro Pallotta’s Roman street art work depicting the pontiff as a flying superhero; it shared a shot of the work on its official Twitter account. In his typically humble manner, Pope Francis demurred, however, telling Corriere della Sera, “Depicting the pope as a kind of superman, a kind of star, seems to me offensive. The pope is…a normal person,” reports the Guardian.

Pope Francis on the cover of <em>Charlie Hebdo</em>. Photo:<em>Charlie Hebdo</em>.

Pope Francis on the cover of Charlie Hebdo.
Photo:Charlie Hebdo.

Though the Pope certainly has his fans, he’s not without his critics. French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was targeted by extremists for its charged depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, has also set its sights on the pontiff, as seen in the cover above.

For his part, Pope Francis condemned the violent attack against the magazine, but told journalists, according to TIME, that “one cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”

Pope Francis's mantle caught in a gust of wind in 2014.  Photo: Alessandra Tarantino, AP.

Pope Francis’s mantle caught in a gust of wind in 2014.
Photo: Alessandra Tarantino.

It’s not a drawing or painting, but as a bonus, we’re also including this bizarrely amazing shot of Pope Francis vs. the Wind, which evokes a comparison to Rene Magritte’s 1928 painting, The Lovers.

The photo was featured in this brilliant, not-to-be-missed Atlantic round-up of Francis and his predecessor struggling as the wind blows around their capes. Enjoy.

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