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See what buildings from famous paintings would look like IRL

I’ll be staying at Bob Ross’s Little House.

How would homes painted in abstract, surreal, or impressionist styles look if someone were to try to actually build one in real life?

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NeoMam Studios, a content marketing studio, created eight realistic depictions of buildings from famous paintings on behalf of the home service site Home Advisor to try to figure that out.

Amrita Sher-Gil, Hungarian Village Church, 1932. [Image: HomeAdvisor]
The group includes buildings from paintings like Evening Snow at Kanbara by Utagawa Hiroshige, The Cottage by Vincent Van Gogh, House by the Railroad by Edward Hopper, Houses at Falaise in the Fog by Claude Monet, and Little House by the Road by Bob Ross. The list also includes a few works outside the typical fine art canon many were taught in art school, like Taos Storytellers by R. C. Gorman, Palmeiras by Tarsila do Amaral, and Hungarian Village Church by Amrita Sher-Gil.

What’s it like to take building inspiration from fine art movements rather than architectural ones, that rely on real-world problems like weight-bearing walls in addition to aesthetics? Some are more realistic than others: take Bob Ross’s little white house. It’s a squat white stone building with a red roof you might easily come across on a country road. That makes sense, since Ross’s paintings often depicted simple natural scenes to teach beginners how to paint. Others require more guessing: Monet’s impressionist depiction of a house in lilacs and purples leaves a lot to the imagination (though the resulting structure isn’t so different from Ross’s painting). Hopper’s House by the Railroad is much more stylistic: The render “brings out the odd, almost Surrealist shape of the house,” according to the NeoMam Studios designers.

Of course, how realistic a home pulled from the canvas of a fine painting is depends on what the original artist was trying to convey in the first place: was the house painted in unrealistic colors to convey a certain mood or act as an artistic symbol? Or was it painted in a way that wasn’t structurally sound? (They weren’t thinking of mocking up blueprints, after all.) The results can be a bit surreal, but it’s not like we haven’t seen surreal buildings IRL. Antoni Gaudí, anyone?

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About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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