The study of art history is one that can encourage an increased sense of analysis, an appreciation of symbolism, and an awareness of how modern desires and interests can best be visualized through ancient mythology and the more modern technique of the oil portrait. Therefore, it can only be assumed that this thoughtful consideration is what caused this replica of William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s 1895 painting The Abduction of Psyche, featuring Harry Styles as Cupid and Kendall Jenner as Psyche, to be brought into existence.
The painting was commissioned by Nobilified, a company that creates customized oil portraits, and discovered by Teen Vogue. And while it may seem simple to write off this work of art as a product of an Instagram-obsessed, celebrity-praising society, there seems to be so many more layers to it. So let’s put that college Intro to Art History credit to good use and conduct some formal analysis.
Photo courtesy of Nobilified, original painting via Wikipedia
While the subject matter of the painting remains the same in both the original and the modern replica, the gaze of the figures differs. Styles/Cupid retains his view looking outward and upward in both portraits. However, while Psyche closes her eyes in a seeming ecstasy, lolling her head against her lover’s neck, Jenner makes direct eye contact with the viewer. Is she expressing her own agency as an individual, in spite of this lover’s “abduction”? Is this a commentary on the role of women in mythological tales of mortal women being granted their immortality by their divine lovers? How does the inclusion Styles’s tattoos alter and shift the original artist’s intent? Did Kris Jenner buy a replica of this work for her mantel?
It may take a true art historian to fully analyze this masterwork. But for now, we are content having this strange, majestic, and wholly surreal painting emblazoned in our mind forever. Art is pretty amazing.