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Pop Surrealist Intervention Art of Robert Brandenburg

A beautiful and idyllic landscape painting or a Norman Rockwell classic may look like finished pieces that belong on the wall to you and me, but to Robert Brandenburg, they're merely starting points for his artwork. You see, Brandenburg takes (or some say, hijacks) existing artwork and adds his own twist to create an entirely different effect.

Brandenburg, an artist from Middletown, Ohio, called this "pop surrealist intervention art." When we asked him exactly what he meant, Brandenburg said, "It's a bit wordy, but that's what I came up with; pop art that is done in a realistic style (to match the style of the original piece); and since I'm taking a piece of art that already exists and modifying it - intervention art."

Previously on Neatorama: Winnie the Pooh and Tigger by Robert Brandenburg

Brandenburg told us that he usually modify reproductions of paintings - artwork that is mass produced (not one of a kind piece) by painting over the existing image with acrylic or oil paint.

Where does Brandenburg gets his ideas? He told us that he sometimes browsed artwork until he saw something that just "hit" him, and sometimes he went looking for a piece that would fit a certain requirement (for example, for a group show based on movies like the ones he did for Gallery 1988's Crazy 4 Cult in 2011). "Finding something that will meet the specifics and also satisfy my personal warped esthetics can be quite difficult and time consuming," Brandenburg told Neatorama, "I have spent as much time looking for a piece as I have spent actually doing the art work."

Be sure to visit Brandenburg's website, then enjoy a selection of the artist's pop surrealist intervention art below, including the "before and after" versions:

20,000 Sponges Under the Sea

This poster is for Disney’s 1954 classic sci-fi movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea(based upon the Jules Verne novel of 1870). The film was an international success, and this particular poster is an Italian version. Captain Nemo has enlisted the services of SpongeBob SquarePants and his legion of pugnacious Porifera to help the crew of the Nautilus conduct an operation to ‘cleanse and purify’ the ocean floor.

Death by Chocolate

I purchased this canvas transfer print (of a photograph) because the river looked rather yummy...almost chocolatey.

Inspired by the classic 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory : not everything is cheery all the time, even in fantasy musicals. I've taken it upon myself to expose the sad truth about Wonkaland; the stuff they won't show you in the movies. An Oompa-Loopma had fallen and drowned in the chocolate river during the night, and Mr. Wonka has delayed the start of his tour in order to conduct a body recovery operation. It's dark work, but at least it's not being conducted in dark chocolate. This isn't the first time an Oompa-Loompa has perished on the job site, and what becomes of their inevitably oversweetened remains has never been discovered.

Engine Maintenance, Hangar 14

This is an actual two page ad from an aerospace trade publication ("Rockets and Science" ?) circa 1965. Pratt & Whitney is boasting about their new turbofan engines.

Whoaaa !!!   You might want to check that engine again well before the scheduled 3 million mile/ 6200 hour mark. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I don't really want Frank working on the airliner I'll be flying on.  This painting is based upon the 2001 cult film "Donnie Darko". If you're familiar with the movie, this picture makes perfect sense; if you're not, then it's just someone in a stupid bunny suit.

Freedom From Fear

Here is another one of the paintings from Norman Rockwell’s famed Four Freedoms series, “Freedom from Fear”. It’s rather silly for a 1943 subject, since at the time there was actually plenty to fear from the Axis powers. But as another glimpse into Rockwellian utopia, the picture has its uses.

  This is a perfect opportunity to inject the 1956 movie classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers: a perfectly homogenous society is one free from conflict and fear (surely the additional sacrifice of all emotion is a small price to pay). Mom and Dad have already seen the light, and they’re going to make sure that their children never stray from the true path. When little Mary and Mark awaken in the morning, it will be into a new world…free from worries. So sleep tight, kids; and enjoy the last of your dreams.

Freedom from Stress

This is a reproduction of a famous Norman Rockwell painting "Freedom from Want"...from his "Four Freedoms" series. Typically Rockwell, it depicts an idealized scene of Americana. The family get together at Thanksgiving is about as American...and Rockwell...as you can get. But it just doesn't quite resonate with me; experience suggests that the happy family is going to need a little more than turkey to keep things running smoothly for the rest of the day.

I have to admit, a hefty Butterball turkey, perfectly basted to a golden brown, can have a soothing effect upon the diners. But then the magic wears off...and the whole crew is still packed into the grandparents' house; when the tryptophan level drops, tensions rise.    

  I think I found just the glue to keep the gang mellow for the rest of the day. A squealing kid put his hand on the hot stove, gramps sneezes onto the bird, the pecan pie runs out before you got any ?...no sweat; it's all good my friend.  

Good Night

It appears that Baby Prudence isn’t the only one who is down for the night. Not really sure what Momma will find in the morning.

Saint George Slaying the Rabbit

The 1975 classic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” contains a memorable scene featuring the lethal Rabbit of Caerbannog, however, the folklore of such a vicious beast actually predates the Christian Era. Various historical and mythical persons have been depicted battling the killer rabbit in the iconography of different cultures, including Saint George (depicted here). After Pope Gelasius I canonized Saint George, the previous images of him battling the rabbit were officially recognized and so he was depicted for 500 years. But in the 11th century Pope Sergius IV decided the spearing of a small rabbit was no longer having the desired impact upon the faithful and he mandated that the rabbit be henceforth replaced by a more worthy foe. All previous artwork of St. George were painted over with a dragon in accordance with the papal edict. I have taken a reproduction of such a piece, and restored it to its original configuration

Searching For Suri

This party-sized (2X4 feet) painting hung in my brother's basement for nearly 20 years; gathering no admiration, but lots of dust. During the recent move to another house, the unwanted oil was on its way up the stairs to the commercial dumpster parked in the driveway...when the proverbial light bulb went off over my head.

The tripods are from the 2005 remake of "War of the Worlds" movie, and Tom Cruise might have thought twice before agreeing to take the starring role; as the other worlders have returned to claim his daughter as one of their own. Ominous though they appear; there's no real suspense, as we know how the story ends. The shortsighted invaders neglected to bring along antibiotics for their conquest of Earth. If only the aliens had thought to raid the pharmacy shelves in Walgreens before vaporizing the store! 

The Big Picture

Charles Ebbets’ men on girder photos did indeed become famous, but not as famous as this photograph taken by his assistant on the same day. For the rest of his life, he had to endure jabs about missing the big picture. Ebbets later remarked, “Hell, I was just trying to keep from falling off; and I’m supposed to be looking around for a giant monkey ?! Shit, I don’t want to hear about it.”

The Entry of the Rancor

Taken from “The Entry of the Bull” by Jean Louis Gerome. The pure bred fighting bulls are dangerous to be sure, but this contest still seems lopsided. The crowd needed something a bit more sporting; so fromStar Wars, Return of the Jedi we get a rancor. Luke was able to defeat Jabba’s rancor, but I don’t think these matadors have The Force working for them. No need to wave the red capes either boys; this beast is going to charge anyway.

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