When we look at classical paintings, the subjects tend to feel archaic and distant. From the elegance of their clothes to the stiffness of their poses, it can be hard to relate to portraits from the 17th or 18th century. Even if we know the subject's history, it's hard to picture them in real life, outside of the frame. The art project by french artist Kyès seems to turn this around by inserting contemporary celebrities into digital paintings that evoke the opulence of Rococo and Neoclassic portraiture.
With the help of Photoshop, Kyès helps us picture what our favorite actors and musicians would have looked like if they had posed for a painter centuries ago, with a sensible outfit for the era. For example, Christopher Walken wears a powdered wig and a green military outfit, while Lizzo wears a purple gown and a ruffle collar, complete with a handheld fan. The contrast between past and present is even more fascinating in pieces depicting celebrities with face tattoos, such as rapper Lil Wayne and former boxer Mike Tyson.
Although Kyès started by featuring French rappers in his work, his portfolio has expanded, and now includes the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy, Rosalía, Mick Jagger, and The Weeknd. However, true to his roots, there are plenty of French figures in his work, like actress Hafsia Herzi and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard.
The uniqueness of his work has also led Kyès to get cover art commissions for independent musicians, boosting another artist's work by embellishing it with his regal visual language.
Kyès’ attention to detail is key in making these digital paintings come alive. The delicate renderings of their faces and the complexity of their clothes wouldn't be enough if it weren't for the careful work on the lighting and the expressions of each subject. Just from looking at the portraits, you can tell the artist has not only an extensive knowledge of classical painting techniques, but also the utmost respect for its legacy.
Scroll down to see some of his finest work thus far. You can stay up to date with his work by following him on Instagram.
French artist Kyès helps us picture what our favorite actors and musicians would have looked like if they had posed for a Neoclassical portrait centuries ago.
His digital paintings feature the key elements of Rococo and Neoclassic art.
The contrast between past and present is arguably the most fascinating in pieces depicting celebrities with face tattoos, such as rapper Lil Wayne and former boxer Mike Tyson.
Although Kyès started by featuring French rappers in his work, his portfolio has since expanded.
He does still includes French celebrities, though.
My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Kyès.
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