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Famous Artworks As Emojis
Do you speak emoji?
Art Stuff 01 Aug 2019

The first emojis were released 20 years ago (yes really!!!) by Japanese telecom company NTT DOCOMO. E means “picture”, with moji meaning “character.” The original 176 symbols were inspired by manga – amongst other influences – and were designed in a pixel grid by Shigetaka Kurita.
Today, there are now almost 2,000 emojis in use, with many of us incapable of sending a text, a Whatsapp message or a comment on an Instagram post without using one. In 2016, they were even given bonafide work-of-art status, when The Museum of Modern Art in New York added Kurita’s original symbols to its collection.
So, in honor of those little Internet characters we just can’t live without, here’s a list of artworks that look scarily like emojis!
The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893 and Screaming Face Emoji

I mean if this isn’t obvious, then I don’t know what is. It wouldn’t surprise me if the creators of this emoji had a thing for Norwegian expressionist art. I mean the similarities are uncanny…
Dancers at the Barre, Edgar Degas, 1900 and Ballerina Emoji

OK, so the emojis of the two ballerinas with bunny ears on our iPhones are a little naughtier than Degas’s paintings of ballerinas rehearsing, but they are pretty similar.
Lobster, Jeff Koons, 2003 and Lobster Emoji

Jeff Koons’s 2003 aluminum lobster is pretty much the double of the emoji, which is a relatively recent one, only being approved in 2018. Life imitates art, eh?
Black Square, Kazimir Malevich, 1923 and Black Square Emoji

The master of “Suprematism”, Kazimir Malevich’s represented radical abstract art when they were first exhibited nearly 100 years ago. A lot of thought went into making the painting but, in terms of emoji, it’s just a black square.
Dollar Sign, Andy Warhol, 1981 and Dollar Sign Emoji

If Andy Warhol were still alive today you can bet your bottom dollar that he would have been the first to jump on the emoji bandwagon. A big fan of anything pop culture, we reckon that he may even have done a Kim K, and made his own And-oji collection. Alas, he is no longer with us, but this painting has a lot in common with the money sign emoji.
With All My Love For The Tulips I Pray Forever, Yayoi Kusama, 2011 and Red Dot Emoji

Yayoi Kusama is famous for using polkadots in her work, and probably most noteworthy – due to her iconic hair – for her use of the colour red. It seems a no-brainer therefore, that if her work were an emoji, it would definitely be the big red dot!
Smoker, 1 (Mouth, 12), Tom Wesselmann, 1967 and Lips and Cigarette Emoji

The sultriness of the lips emoji has a lot in common with Wesselmann’s iconic work featuring rouge covered lips and cigarettes. They are so similar to these emojis, that it looks as though Wesselmann placed an emoji cigarette inside a pair of emoji lips. Mwaaaah
 The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, Hokusai, 1829-1833 and Wave Emoji

Probably the most iconic Japanese work of art ever; Hokusai’s great wave is infamous across the world. It’s emoji counterpart acts as a tribute to the great master’s work, but we’re not sure it will ever achieve the same status. We give the emoji 10 out of 10 for trying though.
The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889 and Milky Way Emoji

While this galaxy-inspired emoji will never be as beautiful as van Gogh’s masterpiece, it does remind us of the Dutch master’s most dreamy work. With the stars gently glistening in the sky, its beautiful and soothing in the same way as the 19th century painting.
Everything Ever by The Guerilla Girls and the Gorilla Emoji

Feminist activist art collective The Guerilla Girls make all their arty protests dressed in gorilla masks so as not to let their faces and identity detract from the message that they are trying to promote with their work. This emoji compliments them perfectly.
Words Lizzy Vartanian
Images via Emoji Island, Emojipedia, iEmoji, Wikipedia, Marciano Art Foundation, MoMA, Sothebys, Tate

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