Artist Michael Mapes Breaks Down Famous Dutch Portraits into Photography Specimens


It’s not uncommon to witness the fusion of art and science, but for whatever reason, it is usually seen in the form of artists turning science into art, not the other way around.

Except when it comes to Michael Mapes.

This innovative artist is known for taking portraits and dissecting the subjects from their original context, only to then reform the picture piece by piece. Mapes takes each and every miniature element of the deconstructed painting and isolates them like specimen at a crime scene. Each fragment is placed within a plastic bag, glass vial, magnifier, or in a gelatin capsule and is then reattached to the canvas with an insect pin. He even adds other biological elements like eyelashes (whose eyelashes, he did not say).

The bizarre specimens are quite a peculiar sight up close, but when you take a step back, you can see how they come together to make up the original portrait, reborn as a scientific experiment. In this case, the portraits are famous Dutch paintings by artists like Rembrandt and Nicolaes Eliasz Pickenoy. His renditions are truly transformative—albeit a little creepy—and give the observer the opportunity to appreciate the piece as a whole, as well as the sum of its parts.

Three of his pieces will be featured at Yellowstone Art Museum’s Face to Face art show in March.

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Category: Art