On Wednesday we issued a playful challenge on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to re-create your favorite art using just three objects lying around home. And wow, did you respond! Thousands and thousands of re-creations later, we’re in awe of your creative powers and sense of humor.
The challenge was inspired by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and a brilliant Instagram account called Between Art and Quarantine, but adapted with the invitation to use digitized and downloadable artworks from Getty’s online collection. In the last few days, we’ve been delighted by countless creative interpretations of iconic artworks—both on our feed and across the web.
You’ve re-created Jeff Koons using a pile of socks, restaged Jacques-Louis David with a fleece blanket and duct tape, and MacGyvered costumes out of towels, pillows, scarves, shower caps, coffee filters, bubble wrap, and—of course—toilet paper and toilet rolls.
Cézanne and Vermeer have been a popular source of inspiration, especially Still Life with Apples (done to perfection with household pottery and gin) and Girl with a Pearl Earring (restaged with selfies and grandma, pug, or lab). Grant Wood’s American Gothic seems to capture the current socially distant mood, while Munch’s The Scream is appropriate for all ages and apparently tastes good on toast. (The Cézanne is at the Getty; the next three are at the Mauritshuis, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Munch Museum in Oslo, by the way.)
A warm thank you to all of you who have sent in their photos; they’ve been a bright spot for us during this tough time, and we hope for you as well.
Below, a roundup of just a few of the thousands of ingenious and hilarious re-creations of art from Getty—and other world collections—you’ve shared with a grateful Internet this past week. If you haven’t done the challenge yet, we hope they provide some inspiration for your own creation! For some specific how-to’s to do a great re-creation, jump to our tips the bottom of the post.
Renaissance Lasagna Noodles
Christian Martinez’s 6-year-old daughter Bella has a love of nature that drew her immediately to this page from a Renaissance manuscript. Encountering the challenge over breakfast, the family let their imaginations run wild for this brilliant re-creation.
“Pasta being life for a 6-year-old, it was first selected, followed by the boiled eggs, which happened to be cooling off to the side,” Christian told us. Next came a brown paper bag as the canvas, and a basil stem from last night’s dinner. “It was truly wonderful to let art be the answer and escape in such a volatile environment,” he added.
Interior with Easel
This early 20th-century Scandinavian interior spoke to Tracy McKaskle “because we are all confined to home,” she said. “I really love the lighting in the painting and found the placement of the picture on top of the wall very unusual.”
For her re-creation, she stood on a chair and carefully placed some pins to hold the little picture, moved her dining room furniture out of the way, then perfectly placed an easel with a blank canvas.
Tracy added that the minimalist vibe of this one room doesn’t apply to the rest of the house. “I’m a collector—from the Salvation Army to estate sales to alleys and sidewalks. The interior painting is the complete opposite of me as I have no empty spaces in my house!” Relatable, Tracy.
The Harp and the Vacuum
Transforming into an ancient harp player with a vacuum cleaner “was the first thing that came to mind when I was looking at your collection,” says Irena Irena Ochódzka, who posed herself into this amazing sculptural recreation. “It seemed like a good idea to combine a more seriously inspired harpist pose with something as mundane as a vacuum cleaner.”
Dad and Daughters
This Baroque masterpiece “was the first painting that stood out to me [in the Getty collections] and I thought we could do it pretty easily,” said Qie Zhang of this family project. Her two girls fought over the yellow dress, she told us, but you can’t tell from the delightful end result.
Her husband’s pose also made us laugh with its allusion to parental exhaustion.
Mantel Clock Meets Tea Time
“The shape reminded me of a porcelain glass, or mug, and there was the reference to beverages on a tray.” The combo of clock and beverages took his mind to tea time, and from there to chocolate and porcelain.
“It just luckily happened that the multiple cookies also mark time (a cookie per second), and the only white porcelain mug I had happened to be a ‘design’ piece.”
Yawning Man with Dish Towel
Paul Morris has been going to the Getty Center since it opened, and he’s always loved this self-portrait of artist Joseph Ducreux yawning.
“I would keep a postcard of it near my bedside to inspire sleep. The red jacket I already had at hand; it was part of a British redcoat costume, but I’ve also used it to dress up as a pirate and most recently for the recreation of the Hamilton-Burr duel. My wife added the twisty towel for my head and the white dish towel for the cravat, and also took the photo.” And here’s the final result.
The Tiny Laundress
Elizabeth Ariza and her daughter have recreated Cézanne, Manet, Degas, and this painting of a laundress by Greuze. She says, “my daughter and I are searching for paintings to recreate, and in this case, we really loved the composition. She loves to dress-up and act; she’s a natural actress.” The final product is perfection.
Laughing Fool with Giraffe Ears
Tiffanie Pierini Ho recreated this delightfully macabre Netherlandish portrait (from the Wellesley College collection) with task lighting in her home office.
“I knew I had a giraffe onesie with ears, and a Christmas sweater with cuffs, so those were my main costume,” she shared. The staff was the challenge: not wanting to go whole-hog with papier-mâche or clay, she tried balancing some toys on her shoulder, which “frustratingly kept falling off.” In the end, she told us, “I ended up drawing the head on a large post-it and sticking it to the wall, and just calling it a day.”
The Astronomer and the Tray Table
Ann Zumhagen-Krause got started on this picture-perfect reenactment of a Vermeer masterpiece at the Louvre by scrolling through a Google Image search for paintings of interiors, looking for ones she might have the right objects and lighting and setting to do. “I got my husband involved—he’s as much of an art enthusiast as I am,” she told us.
“We covered a tray table with a blanket, added our globe, found a chair with the same outline, and had fun with positioning. The light coming in the window was good, and we had a blast with it.”
Tips for the Quarantine Challenge
1. Find Great Art You Like
The only tools you need for this activity are your imagination and a picture of a work of art you like or find interesting. Browse our online Getty Museum collection and search the keyword field for ideas (for example, “portrait” or “dog”). If you have a certain unusual item that you think would work well—like the globe Ann described above, Tracy’s easel, or a special outfit, hat, or even a melted clock like Rich—you can start by searching for that, too.
Many museums have great online collections with images available to download and use for free: try LACMA, The Met, Cleveland, Indianapolis, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walters, or the National Gallery.
And of course, you could try a Google Image search for “painting [keyword],” “sculpture [keyword],” or whatever else you like. You might even try a reverse image search: upload an image of yourself or your object to Google Search and see what it thinks it looks like. (It’s often way off, but let that be part of the fun.)
Pose 3 Objects, Pets, or People
Now that you’ve found your inspiration, pick the objects you’d like to use. Any objects are fine: from a blank piece of paper to your most elaborate hat. You can stick to 3 and see what you come up with, but you’re welcome to use as many as you like.
Here are a few tips:
Enlist a pet. Get your dogs, cats, bunnies, and even ferrets into the mix. Here’s an example of a furry companion pretending to be a fox, complete with her toy used as a prop, and here’s a very attentive pup bringing a classic composition into the iPod era. Bonus if you have an acrobatic cat.
Make a face, strike a pose. If you’re interested in re-creating a portrait or group scene, pay attention to the facial expressions—they really make it. Here’s an all-out scream and a sassy glance. If you’re reenacting a scene with multiple figures, pay attention to the poses. These high school art history students show how it’s done.
For a family activity, look for a domestic or dinner scene. For inspiration, here’s a great Van Gogh tribute.
Pay attention to lighting. Try to imagine where the light in the artwork is coming from, and orient your composition so a window or lamp is casting similar light onto the scene. In bright daylight, windows offer a blue-tinged light, while most lamps cast a warmer glow. Here’s a beautiful example of thoughtful portrait lighting.
Think abstractly. If you’re having trouble re-creating an artwork’s appearance, try focusing on shapes over colors. For example, did you know you can suggest the Venus de Milo, one of the greatest sculptures of ancient times, with a Boost bottle and a torn Subway receipt? You can, and Wendy did it!
Photograph and Post
Use a smartphone camera or a digital camera to take a photo (if you’re posing, have a member of the household do it for you; if you live alone, use the front-facing camera on your smartphone, or the camera on your computer). You may want to do several and pick the best one. Then share with your family and friends the way you enjoy best!
If you use Twitter or Instagram, share your creation with the world there using the hashtags #betweenartandquarantine and #tussenkunstenquarantaine.
If you use Facebook instead, you can post it to your feed or send it to us directly: go to the Getty page and click “Send Message,” then tell us about it in words and attach the photos.
If you want to unite the two photos—the original and the re-creation—into a single image, you can use photo-editing software like Photoshop (here’s an online tutorial) or use a phone app like PicCollage (an example).
If you have questions or suggestions, please post them in the comments below!