Jean-Michel Basquiat (all images by and courtesy Cantor Fine Art)

Some might find the translation of Vincent van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear” into a smiling cartoon head spurting blood a little sacrilege, or just tacky, but it was only a matter of time before the emoji-fication of art history took it there.


The Scream emoji has long been a fixture of our emoji-scape. (image via emojipaintings.tumblr.com)

To continue in the vein of “The Scream” emoji, which makes existential despair seem cute, Cantor Fine Art Gallery has designed a series of emojis based on legendary artists and artworks. Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yayoi Kusama, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol are all represented by little pictogram portraits. Other artists get more abstract tributes: Damien Hirst is a glittery cartoon skull; Keith Haring is a dancing heart with legs; Marcel DuChamp is R. Mutt’s toilet; Georgia O’Keefe is a cow skull adorned with a calico rose. 

The gallery took requests for art-inspired emojis via its Instagram account, where it posted the series. Unfortunately for millennial art history nerds, they’re not functional emojis and there’s still no pictorial shorthand for texting “Oh, Jeff, I love you too, but…” or “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” so words are not yet obsolete.


Vincent van Gogh, “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear”

Rene Magritte, “The Son of Man” (1964)


Damien Hirst, “For the Love of God” (2007)

Frida Kahlo


Johannes Vermeer, “Girl With a Pearl Earring” (1665)


Roy Lichtenstein, “Oh, Jeff…I Love You, Too…But…” (1964)


Banksy, “Balloon”


Botticelli, “The Birth of Venus” (1484-1486)


Keith Haring, “Three Eyes” (c 1981)

Keith Haring, “Heart”


Andy Warhol, “Self-Portrait in Fright Wig” (1986)


Emoji inspired by Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” (1511)

10. dali

Salvador Dali

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.

11 replies on “From Botticelli to Basquiat, Art History Goes Emoji”

      1. Being a fake is what is rude. Very expensive artistic fraud perpetrated on an uninformed few with a lot of money. Ignacio, big sales have nothing to do with talent. It is Hirst himself who is rude.

          1. Good grief, it’s only an opinion. I don’t particularly care if you disagree, that’s your privilege. Grow up and stop taking comments on an online article personally. Let me see, you are between 25 and 35 years old, right?

          2. You don’t need to comment on just every article despite lacking basic comprehension of contemporary art.

          3. Believe me, I don’t comment on most all articles about art in general. Having been a practicing professional exhibiting contemporary artist for many many years, yes, I have a realistic comprehension of contemporary art. And Hirst is still crap.

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