Every December, the Tate Britain debuts its much-anticipated Christmas tree. Designed by a different contemporary artist each year, the famed museum’s trees are both yuletide decorations and works of modern art. This year, Iranian installation artist Shirazeh Houshiary has quite literally turned the tradition on its head with her upside-down evergreen. Suspended by its trunk, the tree hovers above the main entrance’s stunning spiral staircase.
After seeing how tilt-shift photography could make real world scenes appear like miniature models, Serena Malyon, a third-year art student, decided to simulate the effect on Van Gogh’s famous paintings. Using Photoshop, she manipulated the light and adjusted the focus to make us see these paintings in ways we could have never imagined.
Amazingly, nothing in these paintings was changed, added or removed. The incredible illusions are all created by the magic of Photoshop.
Update: I was able to get in touch with Serena to ask her how she came up with this idea. Read that interview below.
How did the idea come about to tilt-shift Van Gogh’s paintings?
The actual concept came from John Malyon (my father), the founder of Artcyclopedia. He was playing with software that could simulate the tilt-shift effect and had the idea to try it on a painting. Together we tried it with some paintings and it we realized that the tilt-shifting looked especially cool on Van Gogh’s work, so we gathered up a bunch of images of his paintings and I got to work.
Were you surprised by the reaction it received?
I was very surprised by the reaction it received. We just thought that people who knew Van Gogh’s work would find it interesting and somewhat amusing to see it transformed in this way.
Why did you choose Van Gogh’s paintings to tilt-shift?
I had already tested out a few paintings and Van Gogh’s really stood out. I think they work really well because his painting technique already has a lot of depth to it, the way he uses line describes form beautifully.
His work was also really interesting because his paintings include a number of interesting details that we could focus in on and make that the centerpiece of the painting.
Do you have plans to tilt-shift other paintings?
Yed, we’ve experimented with lots of different artists from different periods, we just haven’t published them yet.
To create your own tilt-shift photos in Photoshop, check out this great tutorial.