In a digital age of both unprecedented possibility and sometimes soul-crushing uncertainty, it is unsurprising that we turn to the past to try and imagine a way forward. We look at history as a means of understanding how we have got to where we are and where we might be headed. The same could be said of the visual arts. According to Adobe Stock’s latest visual trend report, designers, artists and brands are bringing history into the present by drawing key inspiration from classical art and fusing old-world techniques with advanced technology to create entire new genres of work. Adobe Stock have entitled this collection, History and Memory.
The internet now provides us with previously impossible access to art and art history. In the digital landscape we inhabit you don’t need to leave your front door, go to a museum or enrol in a history of art course to learn about or experience the work of a great master. Globally, museums are beginning to digitise and democratise classic art. One such museum, Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam has been a pioneer in this. Their digital archives profile thousands of paintings and artefacts from the 17th and 18th centuries — all available to download in high-resolution for free.
The museum, in doing this, hoped to stimulate new kinds of interactions with old masterpieces. Notably, contemporary artists reusing, remixing and riffing on classical themes. “We wanted to get people looking more closely at the work, and seeing what the old masters were doing,” says Linda Volkers, marketing manager at the museum. “Mixing the old and the new is powerful, but of course it’s not new. Even Rembrandt was inspired by others, such as Caravaggio,” she explains. “But now, in the world of digital art, it’s easier and more visible. You can tap into the collective memory of art and then share your creations right away.” With more museums including The National Gallery of Art and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art following suit, the future looks bright for these history-meets-present artistic creations.
Loving Vincent, released in 2017 is a great example of combining new with old. Chronicling the mysterious story of Van Gogh, the film is rendered in the artist’s signature stylising hand-painting over live-action footage in an epic homage to the colour-saturated sensual work of the revered painter.
To take this digital play with classic art one step further, a team put together by ING has used innovative technology to create “The Next Rembrandt”, a project which through developing a database of the artists works used statistical analysis to define his style, next deploying AI to a create a new work in the style of the old master through 3D printing to define the texture of each brush stroke.
In stock imagery, Adobe Stock are noticing a trend towards images that evoke the colours, compositions and moods of classical art. Over the summer they invited two of their favourite photographers, Milou Dirks and Thibault Delhom, both of whose styles were inspired by history, to add to their ever-growing stock asset collection.
Undoubtedly in our digital world it is easier than ever to connect with works of classical art. This alongside access to free digital version of masterworks and a growing toolset is providing brands and artists a plethora of ways to history-infuse their creative.
Adobe’s Hidden Treasures of Creativity campaign takes inspiration from classical art whilst utilising modern technology to create tools. Last year, for example, they teamed up with The Munch Museum and Kyle Webster to create seven digital versions of original paint brushes used by Edvard Munch. Most recently, of course, they also unveiled new Bauhaus fonts developed from found historical sketches.
View the full Adobe Stock History and Memory gallery here, with further updates in October to follow featuring conversations with artists whose work draws the past into the present.
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