There's Something About These Portraits of Aristocracy
Hans-Peter Feldmann finds the lighter side to fine art’s reverent portraiture.
Two Girls with Red Noses. Oil on canvas, framed, 36 5/8 x 42 1/2 in. All images courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery
Avid fans of fine art are aware that art is no laughing matter—though even the most aristocratic and prized work has an element of comedy to it. No stranger to the tool of subversion, the German visual artist Hans-Peter Feldmann makes high-brow art a little more approachable, though not necessarily “fine.” Feldmann is a conceptual artist and a former painter who did not feel his work passed muster under his own standards.
A new interpretation on the 1920 Baroque portrait, Magdalena und Jan Baptist de Vos is a reflection of Feldmann’s style of using auctioned pieces and repurposing and manipulating them into new, slightly more humorous works. The series of portraits of perfectly-coiffed aristocrats and their children are shot through with a dose of whimsy via clown noses and jarring streaks of makeup, though the results are not so much shocking as they are lighthearted pranks. Even the most critical eye cannot help but chuckle at the ungainly sight of a classic piece of portraiture brought down to the humbling level of a jester act.