Artist Manipulates Portraits From Old Masters in a Playful and Amusing Way

It isn’t unusual to see artists manipulating and re-imagining famous artworks from the past. But the way German artist Volker Hermes is doing it in his series Hidden Portraits is really something else.

More than a decade ago, Hermes had an idea to manipulate portraits from Old Masters like Rembrandt, Anthony van Dyck, and Jan Jansz Mostaert by exaggerating the fashion choices of their subjects. He started giving them all sorts of masks, hiding their identity and making their garments even more lavish.

Hermes is amusingly creative with his manipulations. Sometimes the subjects have their collars multiplied, or their hats and headpieces become overwhelming.

Despite his manipulations giving old portraits a playful and amusing twist, Hermes also aims to encourage viewers to look at the painting in a different way. 

“If I now exaggerate such a hat in my interventions, blocking the access via the face, the focus changes, the viewer is forced, so to speak, to look at the painting under new aspects, taking into account the meanings that determined the painting at that time,” he explained in an interview with Colossal.

Hermes’ portrait manipulations have become quite popular in recent years. Some of his works have even been exhibited in museums, paired with the portraits they were based on. Check out more of them below.