Home / Art

Artist Recreates Famous Photos Out of Colorful Children's Play Doh

Eleanor Macnair recreates art history using a material that's meant for children. Inspired by the images of renowned photographers like Cindy Sherman, Alfred Stieglitz, and Diane Arbus, the London-based artist reimagines their timeless works as 3D sculptures crafted with colorful Play-Doh.

When Macnair translates the source images into clay, it changes more than just their appearance–it completely alters the mood of the photographs. Somber black-and-white pictures become vibrant compositions and inevitably take on a more cheerful tone, even when the pieces do not call for it. In this way, Macnair explores–and extends–the emotional range of the original photographs, transforming them in ways never before imagined.

Taking a picture is often an instantaneous event, but Macnair's creations require an extended concentration. Each piece takes between three and four hours to complete, and they are only assembled long enough to be documented. Afterwards, the sculptures are taken apart in order to produce a new composition.

Macnair calls her ongoing project Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh, and it's now on view at Kleinschmidt Fine Photographs in Wiesbaden, Germany until April 22. In addition, her work will soon be shown at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles from March 18 to April 16 of this year.

Original photograph: Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J., 1967 by Diane Arbus

Original photograph: Untitled film still #21, 1978 by Cindy Sherman

Original photograph: Georgia O'Keeffe – Hands and Thimble, 1919 by Alfred Steiglitz

Original photograph: Portrait with Blue Hair, 2013 by Daniel Gordon

Original photograph: Kamaitachi #23, 1965 by Eikoh Hosoe

Original photograph: Tatiana Ryabushinskaya as Golden Cockerel, Ballet Russes, 1938 by Horst P. Horst

Original photograph: Escape Artist (Multicoloured), 2008 by Sam Taylor Johnson

Original photograph: Weeki Wachee Spring, 1947 by Toni Frissell

Original photograph: Eastern Madonna, 1935 by Walter Bird

Original photograph: Loretta Young, 1932 by Edward Steichen

Original photograph: Red Jackson, Harlem, 1948 by Gordon Parks

Original photograph: Eleanor, 1947 by Harry Callahan

Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh: Tumblr | Instagram
Eleanor Macnair: Tumblr  
via [This Isn't Happiness]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content