Life imitates art as Russian group attracts mock-up masterpieces


MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian-language Facebook group that started off as a playful attempt by a group of friends to get through the coronavirus lockdown by recreating art masterpieces using everyday items has become an unexpected global hit.

The project – Izoizolyacia – was launched at the end of March, shortly after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia to adopt lockdown measures to try to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Within a day, it had garnered 2,500 members. Now it has over 600,000, with people the world over submitting their versions of famous masterpieces using everything from vegetables to old clothes.

“It’s a child of today’s quarantine situation, because none of it would have happened without it,” said co-founder Katerina Brudnaya-Chelyadinova, who never thought the idea would become so popular.

“It’s cool content, it’s easy to produce, it’s full of humour and it helps to distract you when you look at those works,” she said.

Some of the group’s creations include versions of self-portraits by Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” crafted from slippers and clothes and Kazimir Malevich’s “Black Square” canvas composed of socks hanging from a towel rack.

The group’s co-founders say moderating it had become a full-time occupation, as hundreds of new art works flood in from across the world daily.

Participants dress themselves and family members in elaborate costumes — or shed layers — to reproduce portraits of the past as well as modern art and movie scenes, sometimes with striking accuracy.

“My husband immersed himself in the role of a Swedish princess so deeply that he couldn’t leave it behind for a while,” said Maria Kigel, another founder, who photographed her husband in the guise of Ulrika Eleonora, an 18th century queen of Sweden, for the project.

Writing by Maria Vasilyeva/Andrew Osborn; Editing by Mike Collett-White