Comparing The Assemblage Works Of Bernard Pras With The Originals

bernard pras assemblages

French Artist Bernard Pras, born in 1952, reinterprets well-known images and icons with his own assemblages of specifically chosen found objects.

Comparing The Assemblage Works Of Bernard Pras With The Originals

His inspiration includes other fine art like well-known paintings by masters like Guiseppe Arcimboldo, Edvard Munch, Salvador Dali, and Japanese woodcut artist Hiroshige. Famous photos of personalities such as Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong and pop culture icons like Porn star Lolo and martial arts master Bruce Lee, also serve as muses for Pras. By recreating these images with specifically chosen various objects, he adds a layer of meaning beyond the initial subjects.

Bernard Pras with one of his pieces (photo by Bernard Levy)
Bernard Pras with one of his pieces (photo by Bernard Levy)

The pieces shown here are a small indication of Pras’ large body of work. He creates impressive large installations and sells cibachrome prints in additional to originals of his work at various galleries.

The text from the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna accompanying their Arcimboldo exhibit reads:
After an extensive and wide-ranging training, the artist Bernard Pras slowly began to focus on portraiture while experimenting with many different techniques. We were particularly interested in his photographed “composite portraits” of famous, frequently long-dead personalities such as King Louis XIV of France, Salvador Dali, Albert Einstein, Lolo, or Dutronc, for which he selected composite elements that helped explain the sitter’s character or the reason for his or her fame. However, Pras adds an extra dimension of complexity: he distributes the individual elements that constitute his portraits in rooms – frequently locations chosen with great care – that participate in the creation of the composite artworks.

Top: Edvard Munch’s the Scream and Bernard Pras’ Scream; Below: photo of the late Lolo and Pras’ Lolo.

But in the end it requires a camera lens to bring them together in a photograph, and to turn them into recognizable portraits. He makes use of anamorphosis, which is then retracted by the camera’s lens. This is not the place to reflect on the pool of associated components he draws on. However, the resulting images are so powerful that one feels as though someone has fully understood Arcimboldo’s method of composite art and has catapulted it into the present. In these large-scale compositions, seemingly filling the space of his studio in a chaotic and haphazard way, Pras is able – with the aid of his skill in rendering perspective and his unrivaled photographic eye – to breathe life into his imaginary portraits that document a sense of irony and humour. (source: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

I thought it would be of interest to you to see the original images that serve as the ‘templates’ for Bernard’s work, which I managed to locate through hours of research and net surfing.

I’m sharing the originals first, above his pieces, so you can see the interpretation and by comparison, perhaps appreciate them more.

Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’:
Edvard Munch The Scream

B. Pras’ ‘The Scream’:
b pras' munch's the scream IIHIH

Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s “Summer”, 1573:
Giuseppe Arcimboldo's "Summer", 1573

B. Pras’ “Summer”:
bernard pras the summer

Portrait of King Louis XIV:
Portrait of King Louis XIV

B. Pras’ King Louis XIV:
bernard pras Portrait of King Louis XIV

Hokusai’s famous woodcut, the Great Wave:
Hokusai the Great Wave

B. Pras’ Great Wave:
B. Pras Hokusai Great Wave

Fantomas Poster:
fantomas poster gaumont

B. Pras’ Fantomas:
bernard pras Fantomas

Salvador Dali’s self portrait:
salvador dali self-portrait

B. Pras’ Dali:
bernard pras Dali

Clint Eastwood in the Good, The Bad and The Ugly:
clint eastwood

B.Pras’ Clint Eastwood:
bernard pras clint eastwood assemblage IIHIH

Famous photo of martial arts expert Bruce Lee:
bruce lee photo

B. Pras’ Bruce Lee:
bernard pras bruce lee

Photo of Marilyn Monroe:

B. Pras’ Marilyn Monroe:
bernard pras marilyn monroe

Photo of Che Guevara:
che guevara

B. Pras’ Che Guevara:
bernard pras che guevara

Photo of Chairman Mao Zedong:
Photo of Chairman Mao Zedong

B. Pras’ Chairman Mao Zedong:
bernard pras Chairman Mao Zedong

Lolo, the late porn star:
porn star Lolo

B. Pras’ Lolo:
bernard pras lolo

Peruvian Man stock photo by Keith Levit:

B.Pras’ The Peruvian:
B.Pras The Peruvian

Albert Einstein photo (flipped horizontally from original):
albert einstein

B. Pras’ Albert Einstein:
bernard pras albert einstein

Bernard also creates variations on his own assemblages and gives them a different ‘flavor’ by choosing different objects with which to composite. Take a look at these four versions of his Cat Woman:

catwoman portraits by bernard pras
Clockwise from upper left; Cat woman in red, Cat woman, Cat woman-Africa, Cat woman-Caddy

Most of the images shown are directly from the artist. Others are courtesy of the VVDM gallery.

Be sure to see more of Bernard Pras work at the various links listed below.
•Official site for Bernard Pras
•Bernard Pras on Wikipedia
•Bernard Pras on artnet
•Bernard Pras on artprice.