Credit 'Queen of Christian' by Edwin Antonio PhotoVogue featuring Dior Shoes EAS © Original painting, Frederic Leighton, Flaming June,1895, Museo de Arte de Ponce.
"There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it." Man Ray 'To Be Continued, Unnoticed (1948)
Photography and collage have been going steady since Victorian artists set out to challenge the declining interest in painting.
The photographic artist Henry Peach Robinson, created reconstructed fantasies from existing prints; pioneering the early technique of photo montage or 'combination printing' where multiple negatives or images were joined to create something new. This new way of seeing hit the mainstream, and photo-montage fantasy postcards became must-have collectables of the era.
The art of arranging, and re-arranging parts to form a photographic whole was also a creative tool used by Dadaists. May Ray, born into a family of tailors, ran with the montage baton, and developed a new technique he coined the 'Rayograph'. Arranging objects (his favourites were dressmaking tools) under the dark room enlarger, placing more on top, and exposing to the light; he moved photography forward, this time without the use of a camera at all.
If you engage with Instagram or Tumblr, you'll see a resurgence of artists using digital montage, particularly from those with a fashionable disposition.
We've seen a trend in images that combine art history and fashion; where the artist deconstructs a catwalk image for example, by digitally replacing the face of a supermodel with a Vermeer muse, onto a backdrop which could anything from an alpine or Hockney landscape. The new fashion image, constructed by rising stars like Chris Rellas and Lizzie Gill; exist where they swap the modern muse for the historical, or perhaps replace the mirror in the Rokeby Venus with a coveted 'it' bag.
Credit 'Poised and Ready' © Lizzie Gill 2015
Current artists are able to respond instantly to industry news. Hot of the press is Calvin Klein's Fall '16 campaign featuring Frank Ocean, Grace Coddington et al. Chris Rellas, aka Copylab created an instant artwork superimposing Ocean's face onto the 90's campaign artwork featuring Kate Moss. His artworks are uploaded with tongue firmly in cheek.
Some create work that is so adoring of the originals, that you can imagine them working away, wearing heart shaped sunnies at the computer.
22yr old student, Edwin Antonio; welcomes his followers with squares of high definition colour, wrapped around Renaissance women wearing high fashion looks. The viewer has an immediate commitment to engage, without having time to muster any pompous leanings towards intellectual interpretation.
LM 44k Instagram followers Edwin, did you ever think that your art would be so popular when you uploaded the first image?
EA This idea began in one of the visits I normally do at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. It's very surprising that an idea that started three years ago appealed to so many.
LM You interpret images with a humility that stems from a clear love of the original works. Did you study art history or fashion, and what inspired you to merge these two interests?
EA My project is a tribute to all the painters and designers, old and new. I am currently studying art and photography at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico. As a child I took drawing courses at the Liga de Arte de San Juan in Puerto Rico.
LM Working with three mediums, can you share how you construct an idea.
EA The purpose is to create a contrast between the colours and clothing through a story or legend; and connect the space with the character.
LM You created a series entitled 'Love' as a personal response to the recent events in Orlando, where you tragically lost two friends. Has your work always been a cathartic tool for you?
EA Yes. It was extremely hard to produce some ideas while thinking of my friends and all the families of the 49 victims. I was shocked. I will never forget them. I want to thank everyone who wrote to me with messages of condolences.
LM How have the magazines responded to your work?
EA It has been a very good response, especially from Vogue Italia, with it's platform for new talent 'PhotoVogue' directed by Alessia Glaviano and Chiara Nonino.
LM What plans do you have for developing your work in the future?
EA I have many surprises for 2016!