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.
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.