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(Credit: Eddy Torigoe)

Film

Bill Murray brilliantly reimagined as classic art

“It’s hard to be an artist. It’s hard to be anything. It’s hard to be.”

The life of a comedian is never a particularly straightforward one. I tragic but all so common tale has often seen high profile names lose their charm after years of performance and resort to substances to retain the high, caving into depression due to the intense pressure of performance, as seen in the cases of Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Mike Meyers, John Belushi, Chris Farley and many others. However, Bill Murray has retained his brilliance for decades, basking in the glory of his great comic timing.

Raw and authentic, this scathingly funny and charming New York-comic once said: “The best way to teach your kids about taxes is by eating 30 percent of their ice cream.” With a knack for playing anti-heroes that are weary of the drudgery of the world and are unusually wise with a wacky sense of humour, which comes of as a surprise given his bedraggled appearance, Bill Murray is much more than a one-dimensional performer. Over the years, he has established his repute of being a character actor by playing a wide variety of roles with his portrayal of the disillusioned middle-aged film star Bob Harris to voicing the cynical, talking cat Garfield among other roles. Although he did not have quintessential Hollywood actor looks, he did not care. 

When asked why he chose acting, this wizened actor said: “The more relaxed you are, the better you are. That’s sort of why I got into acting. I realized the more fun I had, the better I did it. And I thought that’s a job I could be proud of. It’s changed my life learning that, and it’s made me better at what I do.” Bill Murray also spoke of how he improvises when he deems it “important” or “whenever [he] thinks that something’s there”.

A popular figure at Saturday Night Live and known for his improv style, Murray’s dry sense of humour is devoid of intellectualism. He manages to maintain a straight face, delivering his facetious jokes with poise and calm. However, he can be downright goofy at times, as seen in Caddyshack. “A movie like Caddyshack, I can walk on a golf course, and some guy will be screaming entire scenes at me and expecting me to do it word for word with him. It’s like, ‘Fella, I did that once,” said Murray. “I improvised that scene. I don’t remember how it goes.’ But I’m charmed by it. I’m not like, ‘Hey, knock it off. It’s kind of cool.”  

People have been obsessed with Murray’s raw talent for a long time and have admired his quick wit and a sardonic sense of humour. When Redditor Eddy Torigoe came across a picture of Murray posted by another Reddit user, he found an uncanny resemblance between the facial angle and expression of Murray to the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. Inspired by this, Torigoe created a series of reimagining renowned artworks, transposing Murray’s face onto classical paintings, making it appear real and compelling. For a character actor of Murray’s stature, it is not difficult to see him wear the badge with pride and honour. 

As Torigoe told My Modern Met, “The inspiration for the series was accidental really. Someone had posted a photo of Bill Murray on Reddit and I thought that the angle of the face and his facial expression greatly resembled George Washington’s portrait to an uncanny degree.” 

Having successfully Photoshopped Murray into the portrait which was a brilliant combination given Murray’s kind face adding a hint of softness to the Presidential painting, it was not hard for him to look beyond Washington’s portrait. As Torigoe recollects, “It occurred to me to look for other images of Bill Murray that would fit some other famous portraits.” And the rest is history.

From Murray adding a hint of peevishness to the oft-spoofed ‘American Gothic’ by Grant Wood to him becoming a puckish, smiling version of Martin Luther in Luch Cranach’s portrait, the Photoshopped images also include reiterations of the works of artists including Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Hans Holbein and more. Take a look at these brilliant series by Troigoe to see how seamlessly the comic genius fits into portraits belonging to various eras, yet again proving his ingenious ability to cinch in for historical figures in classic artworks. 

See more of Eddy Torigoe’s brilliant work, here.

Lansdowne portrait of George Washington. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird by Frida Kahlo. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
“’Self-Portrait with Two Circles’ by Rembrandt. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
‘The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries’ by Jacques-Louis David. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
‘Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe’ by Vincent van Gogh. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
‘American Gothic’ by Grant Wood. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
‘Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1’ by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
‘Portrait of Henry VIII’ by Hans Holbein the Younger. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
‘Portrait of Martin Luther’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)
‘Laughing Cavalier’ by Frans Hals. (Credit: Eddy Torigoe)