With his canvases inspired by the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Manet, Klimt, Dalí, and Warhol, French painter Florian Eymann is enjoying unexpected success in the United States. We met with the artist to find out more.
Florian Eymann has hit the jackpot. American singer Marc Anthony fell in love with his work and purchased twelve of his paintings for 150,000 dollars, and everything snowballed from there. A Dutch collector bought fourteen paintings two days later, and that evening the French artist celebrated the opening of his very own exhibition — his first in the United States — at the Avant Gallery in New York City.
Interpretation of Judith and the Head of Holofernes, after Gustav Klimt, 2020. © Avant Gallery
“I woke up with the golden ticket,” says Eymann, 40, who travelled from Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, a town of 8,000 people near Orléans. “It was an incredible week for my career.” A week that ended at rapper Pharrell Williams’ restaurant in Miami. The painter was the guest of honor at a private reception with canapés, cocktails, and a DJ, where the works acquired by Marc Anthony were exhibited on the walls. “It’s strange to become famous overnight.”
A Self-Taught Painter
Ironically, it was to avoid the spotlight that Eymann became a painter. As a shy musician, he struggled with being on stage. In 2005, he tried his hand at wood painting with a street art influence. Today, he produces oil paintings, a medium he taught himself to master. “I don’t want to be constrained by rules,” he says. “And I don’t go to museums.”
The painter prefers to “stay in his bubble” and find inspiration online. This is how he honed his artistic culture. And his methods have been successful, going by his “interpretations” of classical works and pop culture figures. In his version of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, the two apostles on the left are about to leave the scene. “They’re fading away, just like in the original mural painting. I love this way of showing the passing of time.”
Interpretation of The Last Supper, after Leonardo da Vinci, 2020. © Avant Gallery
His interpretations of Manet’s The Fifer, Courbet’s The Origin of the World, and various Marylin Monroes by Andy Warhol all share a certain aesthetic. Each one seems to have been washed out by the rain, as if painted on a wall covered in countless posters. But the original work remains clearly identifiable. Anyone will recognize Marilyn’s glamorous hair, Margot Robbie’s pigtails and pouting lips in the movie Birds of Prey, and the Joker’s fixed grin.
“Like a Cover Album”
“I started by deforming the characters I painted in the style of prestigious 18th-century English portrait artists,” says Eymann. “Then my American gallerist suggested that I base my work on well-known pieces. People are familiar with Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, and they enjoy uncovering the painting in my interpretation. It’s a game. In the same way as a cover album, it’s a doorway into my artistic world.”
Interpretation of Marilyn Monroe, after Andy Warhol, 2020. © Avant Gallery
His style seems to be paying off. The paintings exhibited in Miami have all been sold, and the president of Avant Gallery is expecting a similar success in New York. The Frenchman has also received two commissions. “It’s such a surprise every time my phone rings. I’m in America, so anything could happen!” In the meantime, the father of three has returned home to France, where he works part-time in a hospital and gives painting classes in his spare time.
Florian Eymann: Interpretation
Through April 19, 2020
20 Hudson Yards
New York, NY 10001