Brittany Allen
October 19, 2014 7:00 am

One crafty GIF-er on the world wide web has recently made a project of re-inventing classic works of art — in particular, a 1961 Norman Rockwell painting called The Connoisseur. The original image depicts a man regarding a piece of (stationary) abstract-expressionism:

And here’s the modern twist: via the tumblr, The Gif Connoisseur, the subject of Rockwell’s original piece is transported through a kind of museum-time-vortex. . .replete with zany, moving images. From the Lichtenstein-y.. .

To the Rohrschach-esque.

This lovable, modern madness has shed light on a new phenomenon: artsy GIFs. Did you know that there’s a whole nascent industry out there dedicated to enlivening historical works of art with animation? What about the slew of new media artists who are creating illustrations specifically designed to be enjoyed as GIFs? Just in case you were in the mood to look at a bunch of cool, flickering, not-quite-photos but can’t make it to your local art museum today, consider the Internet’s latest contribution to the zeitgeist: artistic GIFs, re-inventing everything from the old-school to the new.

David Szakaly is a Hungarian/German graphic designer who’s been creating abstract, Escher-like GIFs since 2008. His cyclical, video-game-like work was clearly designed with the Internet world in mind:

The artist found his niche while experimenting in Macromedia’s Flash, and continues to boggle distracted minds with his visions. If you’re having a particularly hazy Saturday (or meditative Monday morning), you might consider gazing into this bold, alarming abyss.

Then, of course, there’s the more classic, clever spin on the painted GIF. One crafty user made a flashy homage to Magritte’s famous painting of a dude and his apple, 1946s “The Son Of Man.”

Other designers aim to put a cheekier spin on the old greats. Like Rasalo, a multimedia GIF-maker who’s known for adding a cartoonish element to famous paintings. See his jokey rendering of da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man.”

Another tech-y crafter added some sensual moves to a BANKSY installation. This one’s especially neat given the whole this-piece-of-art-is-actually-3D thing:

On the humor front, teams like the animating trio Doug Bayne, Ben Baker and Trudy Cooper have successfully satirized some famous paintings with tiny animations like these:

Other artists have made a project of adding motion to art works where motion was already implied. Take this windy adaptation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Or this stilted, appropriately puppet-like rendering of “The Great Wave of Kanagawa Hokusai.”

There’s also this frantic, colorful combination of several Andy Warhol “Marilyn” silk-screens. Note: one can easily imagine a bumpin’ EDM underscore to this image. Call this a “going-out-toniiiight-GIF.”

And somewhere between satire and world-building sit the artists who’ve attempted to translate an original painting’s spirit into new motion. Like this totally goofy, ping-pong themed ode to Piet Mondrian’s color block images. The original piece really lent itself to this kind of Tetris animation.(FYI, the second artist called this GIF, “Pongdrian.”)

On that note, here’s a semi-terrifying interpretation of Picasso’s “Guernica.”

And finally, there are those modern day illustrators who craft elaborate, breathing, not-so-still life images for your GIF-y pleasure — in other words, artists who just happen to use GIFs as their medium. The Russian-based Uno Moralez illustrations, for instance, look like what could have happened had Salvador Dali been asked to draw all the panels of The Far Side.

The Brooklyn-based comic artist Rebecca Mock has a knack for the slightly off-kilter home scene:

And Sachin Teng‘s vivid, moving panels hover somewhere between the cartoonish and the old-school:

Thank you, Internet. For giving us access to an entirely new form of art, and a fresh way of looking at the classics. We’re totally digging it.

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