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Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat, 1793, left, was the inspiration for Joe Forkan's Big Lebowski-inspired Death of Marat (After David), 2006-2008
Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat, 1793, left, was the inspiration for Joe Forkan’s Big Lebowski-inspired Death of Marat

OLD MASTERS MEET BIG LEBOWSKI

Sept. 13, 2011

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For whatever reason, The Big Lebowski has inspired a cult fan base so devout that it boasts its own festival, religion (“Dudeism”) and now, just maybe, an art genre. For Joe Forkan’s “The Lebowski Cycle,” Sept. 10- Oct. 28, 2011, a series of 14 large-scale oil paintings and drawings on view at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Ca., the artist recreated pivotal scenes from the Coen Brothers’ film -- while simultaneously referencing narratives from classic European masterpieces.

So, for instance, Forkan’s Baptism of Christ (After Carracci), 2011, shows Jeff Bridges’ character, The Dude, emerging shirtless and long-haired -- Christ-like -- from a bathtub. According to his blog, this is Forkan’s interpretation of traditional baptism paintings, such as Annibale Caracci’s original Baptism of Christ, 1584.

The appeal for Forkan lies in these masterpieces’ ability to communicate dramatic plotlines within a single image. For other works in the series, Forkan layers Lebowski storylines with Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love, ca. 1513-1514, and Venus de Urbino, 1538; an Èdouard Manet nude, Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat, 1793, Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ, 1602, and Diego Velazquez’s Pablo de Valladolid, ca. 1635.


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