15 famous paintings you can dress up as this Halloween that will win every contest

Halloween is creeping closer and closer, which means we have less and less time to figure out our costumes (the horror!). Plus, while you want to be creative,  you also want people to be able to recognize what you are. The struggle is real.

We totally understand, and have two words to help inspire this year’s Halloween costume: famous paintings.

But don’t worry about having to unearth your art history notes from high school. We’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most recognizable pieces of art that can easily translate into a Halloween costume.

You friends will be so impressed by your creativity and art education that they’ll give you the award for best costume without you even having to enter the contest.

1“Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci


You’ll be instantly recognizable if you decide to show up to the party as one of the most famous paintings in the world, “Mona Lisa.” YouTuber dope2111 shows how to transform your face into da Vinci’s world-renown muse — frame included.


Just perfect her notorious smile and you’re good to go.

2“American Gothic” by Grant Wood


The stony portrait of two average Americans makes for a great couples’ (or friends’) costume. Just grab a brown apron, a pitchfork, and some round glasses and you’re ready to take a break from your grueling farm life to enjoy a little fun on Halloween.

Bonus points if you take a picture in front of the actual “American Gothic” house in Eldon, Iowa.

3“The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci


Not to toot our own horn here, but getting your crew to dress as the subjects of “The Last Supper” may be the most genius thing we’ve ever thought of. Okay, so maybe it’s not a totally original concept, but the idea is still brilliant. Drape yourselves in colorful robes and travel as a pack, ready to fan out as soon as someone asks, “Wait, who are you guys supposed to be?”

Deciding who gets to be Jesus might cause chaos. But remember, it’s a group effort!

4“Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer


If you have pierced ears and want to go the simplistic route, then being the subject in Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” might be your perfect Halloween costume match. Layer a few different head scarves and wear her signature pearl drop earring to achieve the look.


Then commit to only looking at people from over your shoulder. You might have a stiff neck by the end of the night, but it will be worth it.

5“The Old Guitarist” by Pablo Picasso


“The Old Guitarist” is a great painting to draw inspiration from for Halloween. It’s dark, ominous, and honestly a bit scary. Body paint is going to be your best friend to recreate the subject’s blue-tinted skin.


You might want to learn a few Halloween-themed tunes on your guitar, too. People are going to ask!

6“The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt


Show your friends that it’s true love between you and your beau by dressing as the subjects in Klimt’s “The Kiss.” Not only will the bright colors attract attention, but also, come on — who doesn’t love “The Kiss?”

Get the fabric paint out and get your Klimt on to create this look.

7“The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli


Fear not! One does not have to arrive at the party nude to pull of “The Birth of Venus.” Purchasing a nude bodysuit, some large seashells, and a long blonde wig will help you cover up but still get your point across.

You can also grab a few friends to step in as Zephyr, Aura, and the Hora of Spring to help complete the picture.

8“Whistler’s Mother” by James Abbott McNeill Whistler


Similar to “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” heading to the Halloween party dressed as Whistler’s mother in the artist’s famous painting would be incredibly simple. Don a black dress and fashion a bonnet with lace and some old cloth napkins.

Wearing this costume also gives you a great excuse for taking a load off mid-party to stare into the abyss.

9“The Son of Man” by René Magritte

Yet another easy, throw-together costume. A hat, a suit, and a lime are the only costume pieces you’ll need, and honestly, you can switch all of those up to suit your style.

You can choose to be “The Daughter of Man” instead, of course!


That’s the beauty of art — it’s all up for interpretation.

10“Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent


She’s beauty, she’s grace, she’s Madame X (AKA Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau).The original version of this painting showed Madame X with her strap fallen from her shoulder, which created quite a scandal for Sargent.


11“Van Gogh self-portrait” by Vincent Van Gogh


There are quite a few Van Gogh self-portraits to choose from to replicate for your Halloween makeup. YouTuber goldiestarling shows how she created the painterly effect that transformed her face into Van Gogh’s.


To wear the hat, or not to wear the hat. That is the question.

12“The Two Fridas” by Frida Kahlo


It was hard to choose which Frida Kahlo painting to draw inspiration from, but Kahlo’s “The Two Fridas” would make for an awesome friends’ or couples’ costume. The imagery of the connected anatomically-correct hearts is memorable and honestly kind of perfect for Halloween.

You can make your hearts out of fabric or paper, or paint them on with face paint.

13“The Scream” by Edvard Munch


This piece is mysterious and odd and makes you wonder who “The Scream” subject is and why he is screaming. For this costume, ditch the film-version Scream mask and invest in a bald cap, some white, blue, and yellow face paint, plus a long black dress or robe.

You may want to take a pointer from the above example and paint yourself a background. Otherwise, you might be explaining that no, you’re not Voldemort, all night.

14“Crying Girl” by Roy Lichtenstein


Roy Lichtenstein-inspired pop art makeup has been a Halloween costume trend for years. It’s fairly simple to accomplish with  face paint and eyeliner and the effect of the dots and outlined features is pretty amazing.


Lichtenstein’s “Crying Girl” might be the most famous painting to draw inspiration from, but any of his works would make for an awesome costume.

15“The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Hokusai


Hokusai’s “The Great Wave” has been printed on almost everything, and you can use that to your advantage this Halloween. DIY your own “The Great Wave” dress, shirt, shoes — anything — and hit the party rocking one of the greatest prints of all time.


This is an especially perfect option for those who aren’t really about the costume life but want to wear something festive for the holiday.

Wield your paintbrush and get cracking on your costume, art-lovers! You’ll have everyone you know thinking, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” Creative thinking for the win!