When you look at classical paintings, do the people in them ever seem like they’re from a different world? They appear elegant and distant, making it hard to relate. Kyès, a French artist, has taken portraiture to a new level by placing contemporary celebrities into digital paintings that evoke the grandeur of Rococo and Neoclassic styles. The results are excellent! It’s fascinating to see how these modern celebrities look in classical settings.
Kyès edits pictures of our favorite actors and musicians in Photoshop to look like they’re from different centuries. For example, he gives Christopher Walken a powdered wig and green military outfit from the past, while Lizzo wears a purple gown and ruffle collar, befitting her royal stature. It’s interesting to see the stark contrast between people with face tattoos in the past, like rapper Lil Wayne and former boxer Mike Tyson, and those in the present day.
Kyès initially focused on French rappers in his portfolio but has since expanded to include international celebrities, such as Anya Taylor-Joy, Rosalía, Mick Jagger, and The Weeknd. However, he has not forgotten his roots entirely; many of the people featured in his work are still French figures like actress Hafsia Herzi and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard.
Kyès’ work is one-of-a-kind, which has resulted in getting commissioned to do cover art for independent musicians. This rouses another artist’s career by joining Kyès’ imperial visual style with it. Evidently, Kyès’ vigilance for detail brings his digital paintings to life. If you looked only at the lighting and expressions in these portraits, you would see the artist’s classical painting knowledge and respect for its history. However, upon further examination of the intricate details in each subject’s face and clothing, it is clear that this artist puts immense thought into their work.
Check out some of his best work below, and follow him on Instagram to stay current with what he’s doing.