Classics… But Make It Gay

Yes, you read the title right.

I hope everyone had a great week! A few days ago, a friend of mine shared a post on Instagram that intrigued me. It was Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing, but it was different. Instead of the young white man and woman that Fragonard depicted, there were two POC women. After clicking on the post, I discovered that the piece was done for an ongoing kickstarter called “Classics… But Make It Gay.

Now, the title basically tells you what the kickstarter is about. Started by a married couple, Nova and Mali, the project takes famous paintings and puts a modern twist on them to make them more inclusive. This includes portraying people of different races, different sexualities, and different gender identities.

Classics but make it gay book

The kickstarter has recruited over 60 artists who will each recreate a classic painting. The pieces will be compiled into a book that would come in digital and physical form, which you can receive if you donate to the project. The cover of the book, shown above, features the recreation of The Swing, which was done by an artist on Instagram named Shouty ( @ shouty_y ).

The Swing, Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Swing, 1767

The Swing, shown above, is a product of the Rococo period of art. Paintings of this time showed a shift in subject matter from the monarchy to aristocracy. While this meant they still depicted upper class individuals, this also meant that they focused much more on leisure and luxury – including romance. I think using a recreation of The Swing as the cover is a great choice. The original shows a woman being pushed on a swing with her male partner hiding below her. Even the cupid statue on the left has its finger to its lips, indicating that this was a secretive moment. I think this provides a parallel with the choice to recreate it depicting two women instead. We are fortunate to live in a time where the LGBTQ+ community is more widely accepted, but we know that those in the community still face prejudice. It was only six years ago that gay marriage was legalized in the United States. The fact that one of the women is hiding pays tribute to that fact. However, by making it the cover, the book is making a statement: LGBTQ+ couples are valid and the community is persistent in ensuring their acceptance. It says “We are here, and we don’t want to be a secret anymore.”

I really love the idea of this kickstarter because it is important to expand our thinking beyond what is in front of us. I think that it’s important to admire and learn from artists that came before us, but I think we should also be critical of them. We can admire a piece of art while also acknowledging that, historically, art has been limited to upper class individuals which mostly show white people and heterosexual couples, which is not how the world truly looks, especially today. The artists who are recreating these great pieces are not erasing history or trying to ignore it. Instead, they are embracing the present. By recreating these pieces to be more inclusive, these artists are showing how far society has come in accepting people of all backgrounds, whether that be race or sexuality. To me, that’s pretty amazing, and I can’t wait to be able to look back in twenty years and see how else society has advanced.

Most of the images are still works in progress, otherwise I’d share more! My hope is that I’ll be able to receive the book by November. When the time comes, I’d love to share my favorites with you all!

To receive a copy of the book, whether digital or hard copy, you can donate to the. If you don’t want a copy but still want to donate, you can donate to the kickstarter which is running until May 5th! If not, stay tuned for when I get my copy!

All images are from the kickstarter’s website.

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