Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Barbie in Fine Art

A student sent me some fun links with images of Barbie that reference famous works of art. I recently saw something along these lines with drawings of Barbie, but I like that the actual dolls are used as models for most of these images. Check them out:

Barbie as Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Nefertiti, etc.
Barbie as a Warhol print

Photographer Mariel Clayton has a whole series of Barbie photographs that reference famous works of art (see the "Hystoria" section on her website). She has kindly given me permission to reproduce a few images here. They are all quite fun, but I think that her recreation of Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is my favorite.

Mariel Clayton, after Vermeer's The Milkmaid from c. 1660

Mariel Clayton, after David's Death of Marat from 1793

Mariel Clayton, after Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring from c. 1665

Mariel Clayton, after Whistler's Arrangement in Gray and Black: The Artist's Mother (also called "Whistler's Mother") from 1871

Do any other professors find themselves talking about Barbie in art history courses? Whenever I teach about ancient art, students always bring up Barbie in comparison with the Venus of Willendorf. I enjoy comparing how the standards and ideals for representing the female figure (and perhaps beauty) have changed since prehistoric times, but I think it's interesting that students best understand (or relate to?) this concept in conjunction with Barbie.