As contemporary updates to early Northern Renaissance paintings and ukiyo-e woodblock prints have shown, GIFs have become a popular way for artists to revisit and reinterpret art history. The latest works to join this burgeoning genre of remixed animations, created by the German-based illustrator Raphaëlle Martin, were inspired by René Magritte, himself a master of altering the familiar. Martin released her first collection of Magritte-inspired animations last year, but she has just published a new set that demonstrates how much more bizarre the Surrealist’s paintings can be when brought to life and played on a loop.
Like Martin’s previous tributes to Magritte, these latest images draw on works spanning most of the artist’s career, from his famous “Le Faux Miroir” (1928) to his 1952 tableau “Les Valeurs Personnelles.” They are often entirely new interpretations rather than faithful copies of his paintings, with Martin animating her own color-altered illustrations rather than working with digital images of Magrittes.
This time, however, Martin seems to have introduced a bit more creative flair, often integrating entirely new elements into the 20th-century works that play on the ones already present. The large eyeball in the aforementioned “Le Faux Miroir,” for instance, which now blinks and furtively scans its surroundings, switches between its regular cloud-filled iris and one with a view of a lightning storm. “l’Eloge de la dialectique,” which originally freezes a building within a building, is now incredibly hypnotic and dizzying, moving the viewer in and out of the infinite nest of structures. And Magritte’s “Empire des Lumières,” usually a blend of a nighttime street and a daytime sky, now cycles through an array of eerie, disparately lit scenes.
Margritte was known particularly for his ability to defamiliarize even the most quotidian of objects — from eyeballs to combs to bread — and place them in seamless conversation with their settings, an aspect of his work to which Martin was especially attracted.
“I also like his simple and focused compositions and the fact that his paintings mostly feature ‘real life’ subjects like regular people or animals, rooms and landscapes, which I can relate to much more than to Dalí’s weird-looking creatures, for instance,” Martin told Hyperallergic. “I wouldn’t know what to do with his art or even where to start, since there’s just so much happening at once.
“What I like about Magritte’s paintings is that they don’t feel like they’re trying to tell a story,” she continued. “The situations they feature seem perfectly normal, and I don’t need to know what happened before or how the story will end. Time just seems to flow and stop at the same time, which makes his art very peaceful.”
Revel in Martin’s bizarre series of creations, both new and old, below: