Brilliant photographic mashups that blur the boundaries of time, culture, and logic, are Léo Caillard’s specialty. His digitally altered riffs on art history are multilayered reflections on the media saturation of our everyday environment, through a clever lens. His “War Games” series, for instance, shares sensibilities with the apocalyptic pop cinema of director Christopher Nolan (think blockbusters like Inception and The Dark Knight Rises). Visions of colossal artillery and menacing weapons—including missiles and a battle-worn aircraft carrier—are positioned squarely in the midst of empty landscapes. Envisioning the eerie character of a militarized security state, Caillard’s images might be considered a new, dystopian form of history painting.
His better-known (and blogged-about) series “Hipsters in Stone” is an endlessly amusing array of classical sculptures in contemporary guises. Traversing the illustrious sculpture galleries of the Louvre and other canonical museums across Europe to find his subjects, Caillard photographs iconic works, then turns to post-production to add ironic touches. Editing his protagonists into chambray shirts, graphic tees, and colorful slacks, Caillard translates the idealism of these ancient works into broadly recognizable terms. He portrays Christ, from the center of the tripartite marble sculpture The Resurrection, for example, casually acknowledging his awe-stricken disciples while clad as an aloof folk-rocker, complete with an unbuttoned shirt and a pack of Marlboros peeking from his chest pocket. Similarly, the relaxed and lounging form of the Drunken Satyr from The Glyptothek in Munich, expresses a type of weekend leisure that contemporary viewers will recognize as an appropriate ensemble to be worn by an off-duty tech worker at a morning-after brunch. By rendering antique statuary approachable beyond the museum context, Caillard opens up a world of classical mythology to unsuspecting fashionistas, cheeky art aficionados, and maybe even unsuspecting hipsters.