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Image / Editorial

Tabloid Art History: the Twitter page you need for your daily culture fix


by Erin Lindsay
21st Mar 2018
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“Because for every pic of Lindsay Lohan falling, there’s a Bernini sculpture begging to be referenced.” If you wanted a quote to sum up Tabloid Art History’s reason for being, this is it.

The Twitter and Instagram pages for @TabloidArtHistory have amassed a following of over 60,000 in the past few years because they are a presence with a paradox. They deal with both pop culture gossip and classic art history. Trashy TV and enlightenment education. You get the picture (no pun intended).

The accounts take pop culture moments, images of celebrities, paparazzi shots etc. and display them next to artworks that are aesthetically similar. The result is an often hilarious take on celebrity culture, that simultaneously teaches us something about art history.

 

 

And it’s not just someone Googling paintings all day. The three women who run the pages (Elise Bell, Chloe Esslemont, and Mayanne Soret, all based in the U.K) are no newbies to art history. They all studied the subject at university level and their deep understanding of the artwork they feature is clear to see.

The page enjoyed a surge in popularity a few weeks ago, when they compared a moment in Season 9 Ru Paul’s Drag Race finale, when winner Sasha Velour took off her wig to reveal a cascade of rose petals while lip-syncing to Whitney Houston to The Roses of Heliogabalus, an 1888 painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

The original tweet sparked a thread of history from the account, describing the actual events behind the painting of The Roses of Heliogabalus, and the drama around its creation.

Followers around the world tweeted their appreciation of the crash-course in art history, with one user saying “Every day is indeed a school day. The internet was in its infancy and I in college. Bit jealous of today’s students”.

Last night they compared Beyoncé’s Wearable Art Gala outfit (which the page was “fiercely anticipating”) to both Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Klimpt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I, observing the Egyptian inspiration behind her jewellery.

The page’s ability to capture the Zeitgeist through fashion, pop culture and art history provides the type of bite-sized education that the internet generation is looking for. We all love to scroll through our feeds and have a laugh while learning a little something too, and Tabloid Art History makes that easy.

It’s always heartening to see the spread of women’s interests represented online. Tabloid Art History recently directly addressed the issue of female interests being stereotyped in response to a LADBible article about their coverage of Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy. They wrote a thread on Twitter saying: “Women are complex beings who like a myriad of different things, this shouldn’t shock us. It’s shitty that society assumes fun things are unimportant and devalues stereotypically ‘female’ interests,” admitting that “the Iliad and Kris Jenner’s autobiography are side by side on my Kindle”.

Tabloid Art History are as astute with their imagery as they are  emotive with their text posts and quotes. And they can always be depended on to draw it back to an art background – just recently they quoted famed art critic, poet and painter John Berger: “You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.”

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