With millions of people around the world spending the majority of their time at home, you’d be forgiven for thinking that inspiration might be in short supply – but as Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum discovered with a recent social media challenge, creativity doesn’t necessarily require outside stimuli. 

Artist Paul Morris (Pollux) participates in the #betweenartandquarantine challenge, posing as Joseph Ducreux in his "Self-Portrait, Yawning"

Taking its cue from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and the Dutch Instagram account Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine (Between Art & Quarantine), the Getty offered up its online collection to the masses and asked its followers to recreate their favorite pieces using just three household items or less. And on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, the response was instantaneous – and hilarious. 

“Thousands and thousands of re-creations later, we’re in awe of your creative powers and sense of humor,” Sarah Waldorf and Annelisa Stephan wrote for the museum’s blog. “We’ve been delighted by countless creative interpretations of iconic artworks – both on our feed and across the web.”

Tyler Gunther participates in the #betweenartandquarantine challenge, posing asAnthony Van Dyck's "Portrait of Agostino Pallavicini"

Artist Paul Morris chose Joseph Ducreux’s Self-Portrait, Yawning, a long-time favorite from the Getty’s collection. “I would always greet it like an old friend whenever I visited,” Morris tells Lonely Planet. “I pulled out a jacket that came from a British redcoat costume. My wife found a white twisty towel for my head and arranged a hand towel on my chest for the cravat. She then had me pose in the same way as the Ducreux painting and took the photo.”

For his challenge entry – a recreation of Anthony van Dyck's Portrait of Agostino Pallavicini – artist Tyler Gunther found inspiration literally right under his nose. “As I was looking through the Getty painting archive on their website I was struck by the red robe in this Van Dyck portrait. And then I realized the pink comforter I was sitting on could work for my own portrait,” he says. The neck ruff, made from copy paper, staples, and tape, was assembled during a Zoom meeting. “It was nice to do something with my comforter other than SIT ON IT ALL DAY!!” he wrote in his Instagram caption.

Federico Manfredi participates in the #betweenartandquarantine challenge, posing as Egon Schiele in his "Self-Portrait with Lowered Head"

As the #betweenartandquarantine hashtag spread across the internet, participants looked to other museums’ collections as well. For actor Federico Manfredi, the practice of recreating classic works of art isn’t a one-off. A few years ago, a visit to Basel’s Kunstmuseum brought him face to face with a Joos van Craesbeeck painting he wanted to mimic, and the project that would become “The Masterpiece and I” (tagline: "I want to be able to jump into paintings like Mary Poppins") was born. For the Getty’s challenge, he chose Egon Schiele’s Self-Portrait with Lowered Head – an almost disturbingly uncanny likeness.

Artist Sara Martin recreates (Portrait of) Madame X by John Singer Sargent for the #betweenartandquarantine challenge

For artist Sara Martin, John Singer Sargent’s Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) – on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – offered the rare chance, under the current circumstances, to play dress-up. “Working from home and being quarantined, I feel anything but glamorous,” she says. “When I saw people were recreating famous pieces of art I immediately thought of this painting because it seemed like an opportunity to get fancy!”

Martin’s first attempt at the dress used old sheets and fabric, but those materials didn’t have the same sheen as the gown in the painting. Instead, she went with plastic – and a garbage bag to boot. “I think that garbage bag was the first thing I had put on besides sweatpants in 16 days,” she says. She had chains from a hanging planter on hand, and their metallic butterfly ornaments made for a fun headpiece. “Lastly,” she says, “I couldn’t find anything that resembled a fan, so I grabbed the first thing in sight: a spatula. And voila! Madame X-tra large Garbage bag was born.”

To participate in the challenge or scroll through the submissions, check out the hashtags #betweenartandquarantine and #tussenkunstenquarataine on Twitter and Instagram or visit the Getty’s Facebook page

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