Brain Pickings

Artist Spotlight: Alan Macdonald

The commercialization of heaven, or what 17th century painters know about Diet Coke that we don’t.

Many have criticized the commercial burden of modernity, but few have done it with such quiet, haunting precision as painter Alan Macdonald.

His portraits populate the world of 17th century oil paining with contemporary brands, creating a sense of uncomfortable anachronism that drives us to such existential questions as the purpose of our modern lives and the void we’re all looking to fill with consumerism.

Marathon Man

The paintings often feature lyrics from pop culture’s most iconic songs, immaculately chosen to deepen the impact of the imagery.

Drug Run

Much of his work is an explicit social commentary on vice culture, exposing drugs and alcohol as the true Mephistopheles of modernity.

The Vices of Venus

The Ghost of Saturday Night

And while some of his work has a sense of humorous sarcasm about it, perhaps the most unsettling thing about is the reverse Woody Allenesque comic distress that oozes from it — we may be making a mockery of it all, but deep down we know we’re still headed straight to the very peril we are laughing at.

The Bird Brain

Published December 17, 2008




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