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‘Super Flemish’: Superheroes With A 16th Century Twist

Curators’ corner

‘Super Flemish’: Superheroes With A 16th Century Twist

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Not too long ago we brought you Superheroes after they’ve died. Now, thanks to Parisian photographer Sacha Goldberger, we bring you Superheroes decked out in 16th century Flemish garb.

In Super Flemish, Goldberger clashes the popular imagery of time periods 400 years apart. How would Rembrandt stylize a portrait of the Hulk? How might Van Eyck portray Snow White? Can Darth Vader still look villainous with a fabric ruff around his neck and wrists? The artist provides answers to these bizarre questions with engaging – and at times hilarious – portraits of the fantasy characters we know and love.

The project took a total of 24 painstaking months to prepare and execute. 110 people – makeup/hair artists, costume designers, researchers, models and actors – collaborated with Goldberger over this period. Casting alone took nearly a year.

“We didn’t want to do a Photoshop shoot,” Goldberger says. “It’s very complicated—it’s not just finding a good person and asking them to wear a suit.”

By combining contemporary photography with 16th century portraiture poses, lighting, and attire, Goldberger illustrates the underlying sadness of invincibility.   Essentially, Goldberger writes, this project showcases superheroes’ struggle to define their humanity in an ever-evolving, human world.

“The collection demonstrates the use of 17th century techniques counterpointing light and shadow to illustrate nobility and fragility of the super powerful of all times. It also invites you to celebrate the heroes of your childhood. These characters have become icons to reveal their humanity: tired of having to save the world without respite, promised to a destiny of endless immortality, forever trapped in their character.

“The superheroes often live their lives cloaked in anonymity. These portraits give them a chance to “fix” their narcissism denied. By the temporal disturbance they produce, these images allow us to discover, under the patina of time, an unexpected melancholy of those who are to be invincible.”

The artist is no stranger to working in the realm of superheroes and fantasy characters. A few years earlier, Goldberger employed his 90-year-old grandmother to play some of his favorite female comic book heroes in an unrelated shoot.

To check out more from this series, head over to Sacha Goldberger’s website. Also, make sure to view some behind the scenes photos from the making of Super Flemish.

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Image credits: Photographs by Sacha Goldberger

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