Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Visual Incongruities and Conundrums

Believe it or not, I had nearly two years to think about what I would do in this book.  Yet when my turn finally came (and of course, I was the very last person to work in the book), I had absolutely no idea what to do.

Visual Incongruities...things that don't appear to go together...My initial idea was to take a very recognizable work of art and to insert images of people from different centuries into the same scene.  You know, Da Vinci's "Last Supper" where Marilyn Monroe was dining with Jesus and Abraham Lincoln, etc.  Or, look around Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" diner and see Elvis, William Shakespeare and Aristotle seated at the same counter.

To my dismay, this idea of mine was not new.  Just Google these paintings and you will be surprised how many different parodies are out there.  The gang from Sesame Street, the Warner Brothers cartoon characters--even a dozen Ronald McDonalds have been in the Last Supper.  The Simpsons, the Star Trek characters, the Star Wars cast and countless others have all been to the "Nighthawks" diner.  Back to the drawing board...

I then thought about placing well-known landmarks in the most unlikely of places:  The Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the Hollywood sign at the foot of the Pyramids in Egypt.  The Empire State Building and the Taj Mahal at the Grand Canyon.  Unfortunately, this idea proved to be too great of a composition challenge for me and I soon abandoned it.

Eventually, after culling through several famous works of art, I decided I would combine elements from different paintings and create a new one of my own.  Edvard Munch's iconic "The Scream" was the perfect starting point.  I asked myself, why is he screaming?  What is he reacting to?

Enter Frida Kahlo.  Racked by excruciating pain, she painted several self-portraits that depicted the tremendous pain she endured toward the end of her life.  I was particularly drawn to the self-portrait titled "The Broken Column" in which she sees herself encased in a cage-like body brace that exposes her broken ionic [spinal] "column."  That can be a rather frightening image.  Of course, I had to include snippets of Dali's "The Persistence of Memory"--better known as the melting clocks.

I think the colors in each of these paintings became a unifying force.  I played with all of these elements to form a new composition.  When I was happy with the layout, I made a color copy and then created a gel transfer which gave it almost a canvas-like texture.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the finished product appeared rather seamless and not so pieced together--almost as if it was an original work of art! 


  1. I love this--you are so clever and whoever came up with this theme-genius--very challenging

  2. Thanks Janet! This is one of Su's books and her theme was DEFINITELY a challenge for me--especially being the last one to work in the book!