Tableau Vivant

The Assignment:

Find an art history image–it’ll most likely be a painting–and recreate it in  such a way that the recreation comments on the history of the painting and contemporary society. This is an assignment that can be done alone or in a group. 

Group size:

Your group can be composed of the number of people who appear in the image plus one (the photographer). The people in the photograph can be figures in the images, but they could also be objects, such as the flowers, or the dog, as long as something has been done to make them look like the flowers or the dog.

What you’ll submit:

You’ll submit the painting, and also two pieces of writing, that can be written collaboratively. The first piece will explain the historical context of the painting — who painted it, what it was about, why it was significant and for what reasons. (~500 words)

The second piece will explain how you’ve adapted the painting for contemporary time, bringing the themes from the past into the present. (~500 words)

Below are two examples of this being done. The first, painted in 1865, is a painting by Eduoard Manet. The second, is modern version of it, done with Harper as the woman lazing on a couch.

The second example, Dejeuner sur l’herbe, has been replicated many many times and each time, new meaning is added.

Olympia 1865, by Eduoard Manet



Emperor Haute Couture, by Margaret Sutherland


Dejeuner sur l’herbe, by Eduoard Manet


Artist Lee Towndrow “reimagined Edouard Manet’s painting ‘Le Dejuner sur l’herbe’ for the artist collective The MFA, consisting of Sheila Heti, Margaux Williamson, Ryan Kamstra, and Sholem Krishtalka. Treating the iconic painting with a photographic sensibility, Lee imbued the painting with a depth and dynamism only photography can provide”:


tumblr_mwmcpfwX5S1sqk8c8o1_500.jpg Here, another recreation, this one from SNAP! magazine.


This was the cover of a Bow Wow Wow album in 1984

DeAndreaJ-ManetDejeunersurlHerbe.jpgThis is John de Andrea’s version, 1982….

The Simpsons

Picasso, 1964

MT-LM13349-Le-dejeuner.jpgMickalene Thomas (2009)


Johnathan Charles (1974)

Find more remakes of this famous image here.