I would’ve paid much more attention in Art History class if Santa Claus was frolicking in the images that we studied. Feel free to call me low-browed, but I always wondered why Monet’s “Japanese Footbridge” was so revered in the art world. I mean, sure, it’s a nice painting and all and something that my background in finger painting couldn’t hold a candle to, but now it’s BETTER because Jolly Old St. Nick is decorating it with some much needed holiday lighting. And who WOULDN’T want Santa to be a part of their “Dance Class?” Degas clearly left out an important character in his masterpiece.
Alright, so clearly, I am not an art connoisseur by any means, but this hilarious series, “Santa Classics,” by photographer, Ed Wheeler, “pays homage to the original paintings while offering art lovers an additional reason to smile.” A corporate location photographer for the last 35 years, Wheeler has always worked on personal projects, including “Santa Classics,” which is twenty years in the making. What began as an annual Christmas mailer to his clients, where Wheeler would dress up like Kris Kingle and take portraits of himself doing “non-Santa like” things (such as drinking in a bar or getting a tattoo), has evolved into a “Santa Intervention,” of classic art pieces.
Wheeler begins the process by choosing an illustrious work of art after researching hundreds of paintings to see which ones need a “Santa Intervention.”Wheeler says,
The painting comes first. I’ll often find myself in a gallery or museum looking at a masterpiece and thinking,’Santa would look great here.’
After the painting is chosen, Wheeler uses a multi-step process to “fully integrate Santa into the lighting, brushstrokes and tonal values of a particular painting. The lighting in the studio must match that of the original artwork: this is critical to maintaining the fidelity of the original.” Part of that process, (which sounds like the most fun part) is for Wheeler to dress up as St. Nick and take a self portrait. He then manipulates the image into the painting and the results are, well, masterpieces.
“Santa Classics” is exhibiting at bahdeebahdu in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art just published a series of 11 Santa Classics images on holiday cards – the first museum in the world to ever do so.
There are many more iconic paintings that Wheeler and Santa have “intervened” on. You can see more of those on his WEBSITE.
CREDITS: All photographs by Ed Wheeler are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.[Via @Design Taxi]