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Comparing The Assemblage Works Of Bernard Pras' With The Originals

above: Clint Eastwood movie still from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Photo on the left, Bernard Pras art on the right. Composited by If It's Hip, It's Here.

French Artist Bernard Pras, born in 1952, reinterprets well-known images and icons with his own assemblages of specifically chosen found objects. His inspiration includes other fine art like well-known paintings by masters like Guiseppe Arcimboldo, Edvard Munch, Salvador Dali, and Japanese woodcut artist Hiroshige. Famous photos of personalities such as Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong and pop culture icons like Porn star Lolo and martial arts master Bruce Lee, also serve as muses for Pras. By recreating these images with specifically chosen various objects, he adds a layer of meaning beyond the initial subjects.

The pieces shown here are a small indication of Pras' large body of work. He creates impressive large installations and sells cibachrome prints in additional to originals of his work at various galleries.

above: Bernard Pras with one of his pieces (photo by Bernard Levy)

The text from the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna accompanying their Arcimboldo exhibit reads:

After an extensive and wide-ranging training, the artist Bernard Pras slowly began to focus on portraiture while experimenting with many different techniques. We were particularly interested in his photographed “composite portraits” of famous, frequently long-dead personalities such as King Louis XIV of France, Salvador Dali, Albert Einstein, Lolo, or Dutronc, for which he selected composite elements that helped explain the sitter’s character or the reason for his or her fame. However, Pras adds an extra dimension of complexity: he distributes the individual elements that constitute his portraits in rooms - frequently locations chosen with great care - that participate in the creation of the composite artworks.

But in the end it requires a camera lens to bring them together in a photograph, and to turn them into recognizable portraits. He makes use of anamorphosis, which is then retracted by the camera’s lens. This is not the place to reflect on the pool of associated components he draws on. However, the resulting images are so powerful that one feels as though someone has fully understood Arcimboldo’s method of composite art and has catapulted it into the present.
In these large-scale compositions, seemingly filling the space of his studio in a chaotic and haphazard way, Pras is able – with the aid of his skill in rendering perspective and his unrivalled photographic eye - to breathe life into his imaginary portraits that document a sense of irony and humour.(source: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

I thought it would be of interest to you to see the original images that serve as the 'templates' for Bernard's work, which I managed to locate through hours of research and net surfing.

above: Edvard munch's the scream, bernard pras' scream, pras' Lolo and a photo of the late Lolo.

They appear above his pieces as opposed to side by side (as I showed above) so you can see the interpretation, click on them to enlarge them, and by comparison, perhaps appreciate them more.

Edvard Munch's 'The Scream':

B. Pras' 'The Scream':

Giuseppe Arcimboldo's "Summer", 1573:

B. Pras' "Summer":

Portrait of King Louis XIV:

B. Pras' King Louis XIV:

Hiroshige's famous woodcut, the Great Wave:

B. Pras' Great Wave:

Fantomas Poster:

B. Pras' Fantomas:

Salvador Dali's self portrait:

B. Pras' Dali:

Clint Eastwood in the Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

B.Pras' Clint Eastwood:

Famous photo of martial arts expert Bruce Lee:

B. Pras' Bruce Lee:

Photo of Marilyn Monroe:

B. Pras' Marilyn Monroe:

Photo of Che Guevara:

B. Pras' Che Guevara:

Photo of Chairman Mao Zedong:

B. Pras' Chairman Mao Zedong:

Lolo, the late porn star:

B. Pras' Lolo:

Peruvian Man stock photo by Keith Levit:

B.Pras' The Peruvian:

Albert Einstein photo (flipped horizontally from original):

B. Pras' Albert Einstein:

Bernard also creates variations on his own assemblages and gives them a different 'flavor' by choosing different objects with which to composite. Take a look at these four versions of his Cat woman:

above: clockwise from upper left; Cat woman in red, Cat woman, Cat woman-Africa, Cat woman-Caddy

most of the images shown are directly from the artist. Others are courtesy of the VVDM gallery.

Be sure to see more of Bernard Pras work at the various links listed below.
•Official site for Bernard Pras
•Bernard Pras on Wikipedia
•Bernard Pras on artnet
•Bernard Pras on artprice.

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