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  • 02.09.16

What Were These Classic Works of Art Missing? Full Body Tats, Clearly

Caravaggio. Rembrandt. Da Vinci. Their paintings all just got inked up, thanks to the mash-up work of one steady-handed artist.

Currently, at least 20 TV shows are focused solely on tattoos. (Not counting Blindspot, the hit show in which a woman’s weird mystery tattoos figure into the premise.) L.A.-based tattoo artist Dr. Woo is so in-demand he has a six-month waiting list. It’s almost no longer weird that Gucci Mane has an ice cream cone on his face. Tattoo culture long ago invaded the mainstream, but now it’s hit critical mass in a way that it seems to stand out more if you don’t have any ink on your body than if you do. Although this “trend” has been around since at least Neolithic times, a new project puts their current prominence in historical perspective.

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Paris-based artist Nicolas Amiard has been creating mashups of classic paintings that place intricate tattoos all over the subjects’s bodies. After Amiard is done with them, Caravaggio’s Young Sick Bacchus has some sick tats on his back, and an uncertain smile is no longer the most notable thing about Mona Lisa’s face.

“I had the idea to mix modern tattoos and classical paintings because I like tattoos and mixing opposed things to create an interesting result,” the artist says. “One day, looking at art paintings, this idea came to my mind. There is a big tattoo event here in Paris next month, so I thought it was time to realize this series.”

Updating classic paintings to fit in with modern trends has become something of a genre unto itself. Recently, we’ve seen how historical painting figures would look holding mobile devices, undergoing photoshop slim-downs, and even living . Amiard’s project separates itself from the others, though, because the updates he is adding to the art is, itself, art. Inscribing detailed inkwork on these tiny bodies requires probably the same otherworldly steady hand and concentration Dr. Woo must possess.

According to Amiard, the most challenging part was creating a painting effect that makes the tattoos look as natural as possible, as though they’ve always been on the paintings. Apparently, what’s even more challenging for the artist, though is deciding on a tattoo for himself.

“I don’t have any tattoos but I’m thinking about it,” he says. “I’m thinking about a tattoo with a strong meaning that I won’t regret in few years.

Now, where does one go to get a classic painting with tattoos on it tattooed on his chest? If anyone has suggestions, leave them in the comments, and have a look through more images in the slides above.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.

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