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Cindy Sherman, Diane Arbus and More Get Recreated in Play-Doh

UK artist Eleanor Macnair’s Play-Doh history of photography ensures you’ll never see these classic images the same way again.

by Shana Nys Dambrot
Mar 21 2016, 3:35pm

Eleanor Macnair: “Untitled Film Still #21, 1978, by Cindy Sherman.” Courtesy of the artist and Kopeikin Gallery.

Some of the best ideas in the world start out as pub dares. London artist Eleanor Macnair’s internet-walloping Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh project recreates iconic works by the likes of Diane Arbus, August Sander, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Wall in bright pastes with a cheeky, witty, technically masterful attention to detail.

Macnair considers each image afresh and with meticulous attention so that she can reduce it to simple enough components to make the Play-Doh incarnation feasible. Throughout the process she’s very aware of the slowed-down, patiently analog nature of what she does—that is, until she recommits the picture to digital photographs, unleashing them online, and dismantling her clay tableaux.

Eleanor Macnair: “Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J., 1967 by Diane Arbus.” Courtesy of the artist and Kopeikin Gallery.

The success of the first compositions were something of a lark on Macnair’s Tumblr page where the project went viral fast. She’s since garnered more than 35K Instagram followers, but her exhibition at photography-centric contemporary art venue Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles will be her very first gallery show in the US.

So what would attract a well-established gallery in contemporary photography to exhibit work that could be seen as a bit of a send-up of the medium? “I’m struck by the images that Eleanor choses to recreate in Play-Doh,” Paul Kopeikin tells The Creators Project. “They’re almost all photographs I am familiar with, and yet her transformation makes them new again. Her recreations help me to remember why the pictures were so special to begin with.”

Eleanor Macnair: “Nan, one month after being battered, 1984, by Nan Goldin.” Courtesy of the artist and Kopeikin Gallery.

Eleanor Macnair: “Noire and Blanche, 1926, by Man Ray.” Courtesy of the artist and Kopeikin Gallery.

Eleanor Macnair: “Subway Portrait, 1938, by Walker Evans.” Courtesy of the artist and Kopeikin Gallery.

Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh is on display from  March 18 - April 16, 2016 at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles. A limited edition book of the project is available online.

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