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Encore: Reenactment in Contemporary Photography at the Getty Museum

Art reimagined.

In simplistic terms, art summed up is the attempt to uncover the layers of our human condition in beautiful ways. And while the nature of art is timeless, the mediums we use shift with the technologies of the era. From ancient drawings on cave walls to the cinematic screen, humans have expressed themselves through stories, colours, images, and sounds over the course of time.

Encore: Reenactment in Contemporary Photography, on now at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, explores the shifting mediums of art through photographic reenactments of historical artwork, people, or movements. Whether as an homage, a reinterpretation, or as a modern lens on historic art narratives, the collection features photographs by seven leading photographers from six countries: Eileen Cowin and Christina Fernandez (United States); Samuel Fosso (Cameroon); Yasumasa Morimura (Japan); Yinka Shonibare (England-Nigeria), Gillian Wearing (England), and Qiu Zhijie (China).


Eileen Cowin; Magritte, 1987, Dye diffusion print, Image: 61 × 48 cm (24 × 18 7/8 in.) (left); Magritte with Easel, 1988, Silver-dye bleach print, Image: 150.5 × 120.7 cm (59 1/4 × 47 1/2 in.) (right); The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.


American photographer Eileen Cowin reimagines Belgian artist René Magritte’s 1928 oil painting The Lovers II though contemporary detailing, placing her own family members as models for a personal narrative (above).


Samuel Fosso; Untitled (Martin Luther King Jr.), 2008, Gelatin silver print Framed: 101.6 × 75.9 cm (40 × 29 7/8 in.) Joshua R. Cammaker (right); Untitled (Muhammad Ali), 2008, Gelatin silver print Framed: 101.6 × 75.9 cm (40 × 29 7/8 in.) Isabel Stainow Wilcox (left); courtesy Jean Marc Patras, Paris.


Cameroon-born photographer Samuel Fosso celebrates the African diaspora through his collection African Spirits (2008), a series of self-portraits taken in homage to notable African and African-American figures, such as Martin Luther King Jr. (above left) and Muhammad Ali (above right).


Yinka Shonibare CBE; The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Asia), 2008, Chromogenic print Image: 182 × 125.9 cm (71 5/8 × 49 9/16 in.) (left); The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (America), 2008, Chromogenic print Image: 182.9 × 125.7 cm (72 × 49 1/2 in.) (right); Courtesy James Cohan, New York.


British-Nigerian photographer Yinka Shonibare explores contemporary cultural identities through the reworking of the 1799 etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya. The series is made of five reimaginings representing each continent—including America (above right) and Asia (above left)—in which the sleeping figure juxtapose the continent they represent.

Encore: Reenactment in Contemporary Photography runs until June 9, 2019 at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.


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