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Japanese illustrator’s “Real ‘Museum Girls’” series reinterprets classic paintings in SNS age

As you can guess from the header image showing Vermeer’s “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” enjoying selfies together, this article introduces a series of illustrations which reinterpret classic paintings with a modern twist, imagining the women in candid moments capturing their lives on social media.

This witty series comes courtesy of Isuka いすか (@eri_syumi), a Japanese illustrator who, in addition to creating original works, draws fan art of various anime and games, most recently the Japanese mobile game Monster Strike.
“Real ‘Museum Girls’”
Perhaps in reaction to last month’s controversial “Museum Girls” 美術館女子 bijutsukan Joshi project, Isuka calls his series 本物の「美術館女子」honmono no bijutsukan joshi, or “Real ‘Museum Girls’.” The former, a joint project between the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and Team 8 of idol group AKB48 featuring members of the group posing in front of famous artworks, was lambasted for what many perceived as gender discrimination. According to the Asahi Shimbun, criticism such as “it only expresses the gaze of someone appreciating young women who happen to be at a museum,” or “it’s only thinking about what looks good on Instagram, and there’s no respect for the works or the people involved in art” prompted the organizers to remove the photos as well as the website.

Whether intentionally or not, Isuka’s “Real ‘Museum Girls’” series re-establishes the primacy of the subjects depicted in the artworks. These “museum girls” are not casual visitors posing in front of art for the benefit of their fans but the protagonists of the artworks themselves. Here, social media provides a new window into the lives of these women, as we see them posting selfies and providing commentary on the situations they find themselves in.

With the artist’s gracious permission, we’ve reproduced a few panels below, along with the painting they’re inspired by to facilitate visual comparison. (English translations in purple text are our additions and not contained in the originals)
Leonardo da Vinci’s “Annunciation”
The angel Gabriel has stopped by to deliver some important news to Mary about her pregnancy.

Leonardo da Vinci / CC BY-SA


Leonardo da Vinci’s “Madonna of the Carnation”
The Virgin Mary is checking out YouTube on her iPad while sipping on boba tea when Baby Jesus offers her a carnation.

Leonardo da Vinci / Public domain



Eugène Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People”
This liberty thing is great but look at all these people not practicing social distance!
Eugène Delacroix / Public domain

Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”
Venus is born! But what’s up with that crowd on the other side of the canvas. No social distance there! And Horae better hurry up with those clothes. This beach is cold!

Sandro Botticelli / Public domain

This is just a sample of the series, which covers a few other famous paintings, including one from Japan.
Article Credit: Grapee.jp

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