Icons by Justin Richburg

Bringing together people from different backgrounds and eras, illustrator Justin Richburg reimagines Vermeer for the 21st century.

By Google Arts & Culture

Icons (2018-12-01) by Justin Richburg

In his unmistakable bold, graphic style Justin Richburg has blended well-known figures from Vermeer’s world with the cultural icons of today. Creating a tableau fit for the 21st century.

The illustration is inspired by Ernie Barnes iconic painting "Sugar Shack". In the crowd, you can spot several Vermeer characters. Here, "The Geographer" listens to Lebron James & Colin Kaepernick.

'The Milkmaid' pours Ed Sheeran a drink. “I wanted to depict a scene where everyone is just carefree and having fun. What better scene than a party?” Richburg says of the piece.

'The Painter' & his subject are taking pictures with Kim Kardashian & Kylie Jenner

and 'The Girl with a Pearl Earring' is disturbed...

... by a ranting Kanye West.

Vermeer was known for his use of light and shadows; in many of his paintings light illuminates his subjects from the left hand side.

Richburg pays homage to Vermeer’s mastery of light. Kanye West is standing-up in the middle of the party and casts a shadow to the right side of the image.

That illumination shines over Vermeer's characters. Richburg’s use of shadow is designed to show the details and accentuate the strengths of Vermeer's art.

Richburg highlights how Vermeer’s paintings have become characters themselves and despite the fact they were painted over 300 years ago, they still hold their own in a crowd of superstars.

Richburg says “Vermeer's iconic paintings are standing in a room with iconic people. Icons all fit together no matter what era you're in”. Also, hidden amongst the crowd you’ll find Post Malone...

Mac Miller, Ariana Grande

Rihanna, Ellen Degeneres,


Jay-Z and Beyonce,

Cardi B and Nicki Minaj

and DeRay Mckesson.

"The interesting part about this piece is that it unites cultures,” explains Richburg. “It brings people from all different backgrounds together in one space.” Something Vermeer also did in his work.

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