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Thousands of Torn Paper Pieces Recreate Classic Paintings from the 19th Century

Printed matter like news magazines, advertising campaigns, and comic books are just some of the raw materials used in Vik Muniz's meticulously-crafted collages. The artist, who lives and works in both Rio de Janeiro and New York, takes irregularly-sized strips of paper and assembles the hundreds (if not thousands) of individual parts into one cohesive image.

Muniz depicts classic paintings from the 19th century by artists like Manet, Degas, and Van Gogh. The recomposed collages look painterly, and the torn pieces give the impression that they're large, overlapping brush strokes. From far away you can tell what an image is of – a woman at a bar, ballerinas stretching, a starry landscape – but it's up close that you're able to marvel at all of the individual elements contained in the composition. We see fragments of faces, two letters of a headline, small animals, and much more within these incredible works.

Above: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Bar at Folies Bergres by Edouard Manet
After the Bath by Edgar Degas
The Absinthe Drinker by Edgar Degas
Summer in the City by Edward Hopper
Siesta by Pierre Bonnard
Wheat Field with Cypresses by Vincent Van Gogh
Wanderer Above the Sea of Media by Caspar David Friedrich
Floor scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte

Vik Muniz website
via [Optically Addicted]

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.
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