Bizarre or trending subjects, catch a break with our curiosity of the week. As a regular visitor of museums, Michel Gantner creates amusing photographic frescos, blending together master pieces and curious wanderers.

“Both of my parents are painters. I grew up in a world where aesthetics was a daily preoccupation. Graduating from an art school thus seemed unavoidable”, Michel Gantner tells us. After studying Fine Arts in Mulhouse and Art Deco in Strasbourg, the artist turned to imagery, becoming a freelance photographer in 1998. Deeply influenced by his upbringing, he captures his surroundings with a certain sensitivity. Inspired by the advent of digital tools, he has developed a mixed practice, merging modern technologies with ancient creations. “Although figures and portraits took up most of my first projects, objects and vegetation – and their graphic quality – slowly dug their way in, and have now become an essential source of inspiration”, he says.

Seeking the perfect scene

It is in a familiar environment – London’s National Gallery – that the Museal series was born. “When I was visiting, two years ago, I was struck by the familiar relation people maintained with the artworks. To a point where they would get mixed up with them”, Michel Gantner remembers. Charles Timbal, Théodore Géricault, Eugène Delacroix… The frescos of great painters seem to melt in the present, catching in their midst the curious visitors – lost in a dreamy contemplation.

We find, in the photographer’s images, a playful quality. Each shot feels like a performance. One can easily imagine the artist hidden, blending in the crowd walking through the museum, seeking the perfect scene. “I needed to find similarities between the observers and the “observees”: their attitudes, the colours and the lights trigger a confusion, leading to our confusion”, he tells us. Frozen in action, his models seem to be part of the canvas, giving the artworks a contemporary nobility. A fusion of centuries that questions, with humour, our take on classical art, in a world submerged by the digital.

© Michel Gantner