Artist Turns the Google Art Project’s Blurry Canvases Into Hazy Abstract Paintings


For his ongoing “Copyrights” project, the British artist Phil Thompson has actual paintings manufactured based on the copyright-restricted — and therefore blurred out — images of paintings found on the Google Art Project. After taking screenshots of the Mark Rothko-like, distorted artworks, Thompson orders large-scale oil reproductions of the works from the Dafen Oil Painting Village in China, which has recently been caught up in internet censorship problems with Google.

“The internet provides a huge amount of material which otherwise would be unattainable to most people,” the artist told Wired. “It has led to a lot of creativity — whether it is with memes or highly skilled photoshop jobs — everyone is now able to create and edit images.”

Thompson has also dealt with copyright law in other projects dealing, like the “Getty Oil Paintings” project, from last year, in which he appropriated and republished images of paintings like Matisse‘s “The Dance,” from the Getty Images photo bank that have the “Getty Images” logo superimposed over them as a watermark to ward off unwanted usage.

Thompson’s work consistently deals with the ways in which classic art forms can be reproduced, recycled, and distorted by technology, in manner that harkens back to the “Pictures” work for a New Aesthetic generation. In another project, Thompson deconstructs Michelangelo’s “David” in an awesome, glitchy video titled “Dimensionist Sculpture” (embedded below).  And, he also had David reproduced using a 3-D printer that compressed the sculpture at different levels, resulting in three takes on the original that range from fairly true to life to very lumpy.

Thompson is represented by Xpo gallery in Paris—a space dedicated to showing art that intersects with digital technology.

Watch Phil Thompson’s “Dimensionist Sculpture”:

— Ashton Cooper