Pop culture favorites get Baroque makeovers in epic geeky mashup

Sci-fi and fantasy cosplay meets 17th-century art. 

 

Aja Romano

Internet Culture

Published Nov 18, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 4:34 am CDT

Superheroes and other fictional characters have always taught us about high-minded ideals like truth, courage, and justice; but thanks to a clever French photographer they’re teaching us about Baroque artwork, too.

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The whimsical French photographer Sacha Goldberger debuted a display at the Grand Palais in Paris over the weekend in which he staged two dozen cosplayers in an elaborate recreation of the aesthetic of the Flemish masters. The exhibit, called Super-Flemish, was an extension of a month-long project unveiled in September that involved the participation of more than 100 people—including members of the famed 501st Star Wars fandom cosplay society.

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Goldberger’s staging places modern mythological figures like Superman, Alice in Wonderland, and the casts of Star Wars and Avengers into the settings of 17th-century Baroque art. Homaging artists like Jan Vermeer and Jan van Eyck, each “portrait” has a stylized pose, a carefully constructed period costume, and a deliberately understated title. Here’s Snow White:

Jeune femme pale entourée d’animaux (Pale young woman surrounded by animals)

Goldberger’s official exhibit description muses on the timeless properties of myth and art:

“What if Superman was born in the sixteenth century?

And what if the Hulk was a Duke?

How might Van Eyck have portrayed Snow White?

Sacha’s discovery of these characters, which goes back to childhood, gave birth to a desire to re-appropriate them, to take them back to a time forming the cornerstone of modern western art.”

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Chevalier avec casque et bouclier aux couleurs des Etats-Unis (Knight with helmet and shield in the colors of the United States)

Portrait d’une femme féline en noir et de son animal de compagnie encore plus sauvage (Portrait of a feline in black and her ferocious animal companion)

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Goldberger writes: 

“The collection demonstrates the use of 17th century techniques counterpointing light and shadow to illustrate nobility and fragility of the super powerful of all times. It also invites you to celebrate the heroes of your childhood.”

 Portrait d’un homme masqué avec des oreilles en pointes (Portrait of a masked man with pointed ears)

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Femme en rouge et bleu au diadème et lasso (Woman in red and blue with tiara and lasso)

“These characters have become icons to reveal their humanity: tired of having to save the world without respite, promised to a destiny of endless immortality, forever trapped in their character.”

Jeune femme au lapin qui boit du thé (Young girl with rabbit drinking tea)

“The superheroes often live their lives cloaked in anonymity. These portraits give them a chance to “fix” their narcissism denied.”

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Portrait d’un bouffon au sourire grimaçant (Portrait of a clown with a grim smile)

Portrait d’un homme masqué avec une araiignée brodée sur le buste (Portrait of a masked man with embroidered spider)

 

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Portrait d’un homme qui porte un casque abat-jour avec de la lumière qui sort des yeux (Portrait of a glowing eyed man in helmet)

“By the temporal disturbance they produce, these images allow us to discover, under the patina of time, an unexpected melancholy of those who are to be invincible.”

Portrait d’un homme en vert vraiment très musclé (Portrait of a muscle man in green)

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Portrait d’un homme avec un S sur le torse (Portrait of a man wearing an ‘S’ on his chest)

Portrait du page de l’homme masqué avec des oreilles en pointes (Portrait of a young man with a mask and pointed ears)

Portrait d’un couple d’hommes masqués qui ne se regardent pas (Portrait of two masked men who aren’t looking at us)

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Homme masqué habillé en vert avec bague (Masked man in green with ring)

“As science fiction meets history of art, time meets an inexhaustible desire for mythology which is within each of us.”

Portrait d’un ancien de petite taille avec un bâton de lumière verte (Portrait of a small wizened man with a glowing green wand)

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Portrait d’une princesse avec un casque de cheveux sur les oreilles (Portrait of a princess with a hair helmet on her ears)

Portrait d’un officier casqué de noir (Portrait of a helmeted officer in black)

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Portrait d’un homme vétu d’une armure d’or (Portrait of a man clad in golden armor)

Portrait d’un homme très poilu (Portrait of a very hairy man)

Portrait d’un homme en noir casqué et son animal de compagnie (Portrait of a man in black mask and his pet)

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Portrait d’un objet cylindrique en métal (Portrait of a cylindrical metal object)

So what do you think? Do you appreciate the Dutch masters a little more than you did before you saw this exhibit?

Photos courtesy of Sacha Goldberger

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*First Published: Nov 18, 2014, 7:38 pm CST