It was super fun to honor Jan van Eyck’s sublime masterpiece The Arnolfini Portrait at the National Gallery in London, by way of appropriating the “original appropriation” (?!) from the infamous Pictures from the Kermitage Collection calendar and book I grew up with from the ’80s. Like the others I have painted from this “collection,” I photoshopped the Muppet from their original fake back-ground from the photo shoot of the calendar and instead super-imposed them into the original Van Eyck background to pay homage not only to Henson and Co., but also to the Early Netherlandish master.
I couldn’t hope to tackle all the fine micromanaging this painting is so renowned for, so I thought it better than rather imitate his style to paint it the best way I can as one of my own paintings. I’m obsessed with how the far right has weaponized the atelier methods to create their own movement (and champion Van Eyck for the wrong reasons) so a fashion painting seemed more fun AND politically correct.
There is much controversy about the meaning of the work, but after painting it I’m convinced that it is invoking the Annunciation, as there is the Washington Annunciation Van Eyck painted at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, that specifically is of that biblical event that uses a very similar composition of the open window on the left, angel on left, Christ in stained glass window above, and besotted Mary on right. I’m looking closely at the original Van Eyck, I’m intrigued and think key are the phallic forms the negative space of the lamp holds (specifically bottom right), which I’m sorry looks totally like a penis, that also have, in other negative space shapes, “seeds,” “flowers,” “hearts.” Everyone has their theories, I’ve never heard the “negative space of the chandelier” one, perhaps I broke the code—people mention the candle could be the light of God, perhaps it’s the whole chandelier?!
For me, this is a queer wed-ding and related ultimately thinking of when Andrew and I got married the first Sunday you could in CA back in 2008, and now have been together almost thirty years, and counting!