10 Installations That Resemble Famous Works of Art


Every year the London Design Festival draws visitors from around the world to celebrate the UK city as a creative capital. Designers and architects are commissioned to create installations in London’s public spaces that explore innovative techniques. An M.C. Escher-inspired staircase installation that will appear outside St Paul’s Cathedral caught our eye on Phaidon (featured after the jump). There have been other installation works that borrowed from the fine art world. Here are 10 that resemble famous works of art and reinvigorate our appreciation for the classics.

Alex de Rijke, dean of the School of Architecture at London’s Royal College of Art, and his firm, dRMM, referenced the work of Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher with the installation, Endless Stair. Impossible staircases are a theme in Escher’s work, as in the case of his 1951 lithograph, House of Stairs. “Endless Stair is a three-dimensional exercise in composition, structure and scale. The Escher-like game of perception and circulation in timber playfully contrasts with the religious and corporate environment of stone and glass in the city,” dRMM’s associate director said of the piece. Endless Stair, composed of 20 interlocking staircases, will be installed in the courtyard in front of St Paul’s Cathedral as part of the London Design Festival.

Claude Cormier lived up to his namesake, French painter Claude Monet, when he created a field of poppies for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ sculpture garden. The installation, Tom II (Field of Poppies), is on view through October 27. The Quebec-based artist and architect mapped out 5,060 green, red, and white overlay markers to create a pixelated field of flowers along Du Musée Avenue. From a distance, it references Monet’s 1873 painting, Poppy Field.

Photo credit: Raimund Zakowski

Photo credit: Sacha Georg

Esther Stocker’s black-and-white installations, which toy with the viewer’s perception of space and form, resemble the painted grids of Piet Mondrian.

Photo credit: duncan c

London’s National Gallery installed a vertical garden made up of 8,000 plants (26 different varieties), based on Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 painting, A Wheatfield with Cypresses (pictured, bottom). The living installation is a beautiful take on the artist’s “canvas of cypresses with some ears of wheat, some poppies, [and] a blue sky like a piece of Scotch plaid.”

Photo credit: Jeremy Rotsztain

The term “action painting” originated from the days of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, thanks to an essay by Harold Rosenberg in ARTnews. Pollocks’ method of pouring and dripping paint was transformed into a digital painting, using raucous action movie battles as a guide. Jeremy Rotsztain created a custom software program that translated bursts of sound and images from films as colorful forms. Rotsztain displays the work as a video installation and photo series.

Photo credit: E.V. Day

Photo credit: Ben Valentine

When installation artist E.V. Day was awarded the 2010 Munn Artist Residency by the Versailles Foundation, she was granted permission to live on Monet’s Giverny estate, which he frequently painted, for a year. Day decided to share her time at the French garden house with The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black’s singer, Kembra Pfahler. The women collaborated on a photo series that depicted Pfahler as Playboy’s “Femlin” mascot (the magazine sponsored the exhibition) amongst the lush Giverny setting, which was incorporated into an installation at The Hole gallery. Day recreated Monet’s estate, complete with a living garden, a pond with lily pads, the iconic bridge, and some of the indigenous plants Monet liked to paint.

Photo credit: James Ewing

Photo credit: James Ewing

Visionary filmmaker and artist Peter Greenaway created a multi-media installation that reimagined Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The work was part of his ongoing Ten Classic Paintings Revisited series, which aims to marry modern technology with an ancient medium. Greenaway set his installation within a full-scale replica of the dome of the refectory of Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan — the home of The Last Supper. A theatrical medley of audio and video walked viewers through the space, offering an alternative view of Da Vinci’s religious masterpiece.

Photo credit: Roberto Marossi

Photo credit: designboom

In 2010, master appropriator John Baldessari created The Giacometti Variations — an installation featuring multiple large-scale figures (15-feet-tall) outfitted with humorous and contemporary clothes, props, and objects. The figures themselves were modeled after the work of Alberto Giacometti (pictured, bottom), whose spindly people were the subject of most of his sculptures, paintings, and drawings. “Giacometti figures are the most skinny and emaciated sculpture that exist. Why not push that further? Also there currently is a blurring of art and fashion,” the artist stated about his Prada-sponsored exhibition. “Furthermore it is au courant, almost de rigueur that fashion models be extremely tall and thin. Why not fuse the two—art and fashion—since that idea is in our zeitgeist?”

Hopper Happens was a two-year multi-media celebration of American realist painter Edward Hopper, created in conjunction with the historic Edward Hopper, Prelude: the Nyack Years exhibit at the Edward Hopper House. The streets of Nyack, New York (where Hopper grew up) became the setting for storefront installations, pop-up galleries, video installations, and various performances that evoked the spirit of Hopper’s vision of modern life.

Photo credit: Iwan Baan

Italian Renaissance artist Filippo Brunelleschi is credited with inventing one-point linear perspective, which revolutionized fine art painting. During the 1400s, he created two panel paintings that illustrated geometric optical linear perspective. British installation artist Richard Wright was inspired by Brunelleschi’s concepts for his permanent installation at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. He was commissioned to create two ceiling works on either side of Rembrandt’s Night Watch (pictured, bottom). Wright hand painted a network of 50,000 black stars that created spatial illusions.