Sep. 15, 2013 at 8:24 AM ET
Who would've imagined classical art could be so hip as to sport Ray-Bans and a pack of smokes? French artist Leo Caillard did, and he's using his images to convey the message "apparel oft proclaims the man," as Shakespeare wrote in "Hamlet."
In his series "Hipster in Stone," Caillard photographed sculptures at the Louvre — from Germain Pilon's "The Resurrection of Christ" (circa 1559) to Edmé Bouchardon's 1726 marble copy of "The Barberini Faun" (the original was sculpted by an unknown artist circa 200 BC) and beyond — and "dressed" them in modern clothing.
The 28-year-old, who lives in Paris, told NBC News via email that the idea came to him in January 2012 during one of his regular visits to the Louvre. "When I looked at the classical statues, I had the idea of dressing them up because many of them had a hipster attitude and trendy poses that we usually see in fashion magazines," he explained.
"I chose to modernize the statues because they represent iconic people, gods and famous people from that period of time. And as soon as I dressed them up, they suddenly became ... a regular cool guy that you could see anytime in the street."
Though the sculptures in his images really do look like they're wearing cropped pants, denim shirts and other cool duds, Caillard said it was thanks to fancy Photoshop work.
"I didn't have the authorization to touch the statues — that was a big problem. And even if I had the authorization, statues are not very easy to dress up," Caillard joked.
What he did instead was photograph the statues at the museum. Next, he selected male models with body types similar to those of the sculptures', dressed them in modern clothing, posed them like the statues in similar lighting as at the Louvre, and photographed the men. Finally, he combined the images in Photoshop, taking the clothing from the studio shoots and superimposing them onto the photos of the statues.
"It's a long process of work, but it looks really real, and that's the most important," Caillard, who started his photography work at 19, said. He explained that each image — from research to photo shoots to digital manipulation — took up to three weeks to complete.
Caillard currently has nine finished images for his "Hipster" series on his website, which he started working on nearly two years ago. He is still adding to the collection. "I would like to have 30 to 40 statues from Greek to the 17th century, with three different styles," including hipster and high fashion, the artist said. His goal is to be able to do a book about the concept behind the project, and feature a majority of the images.
But until that book is ready, prints are available of the existing images, ranging from $1,065 for a 24x36-inch piece to nearly $6,000 for a life-size copy. The art comes mounted in Diasec plexiglass, and is signed, numbered and ready to display.
"Hipster in Stone" will be on exhibit in Paris in October, and New York and London next year.