Parody, an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect, is a useful tool when seeking ideas for conceptual art. When I taught illustration I often gave an assignment to find a famous work of art and mock it in some way. I’ve painted many parodies over the years and not long ago I posted one—Anne of Claws based on Holbein’s Anne of Cleves.
In 1994 I was contacted by the art director of Portland State University’s alumni magazine. He needed cover art for an article titled “Curriculum Revolution.” I immediately began thinking about famous revolutionary works of art, and Delacroix’s iconic Liberty Leading the People sprang to mind. My idea was to show Lady Liberty sporting a mortarboard, graduation cap, instead of the Phrygian cap in the original painting. I presented a sketch and received the art director’s approval to proceed to the final art…with one exception. The director was adamant that I not show Liberty’s monumental breasts. Too titillating for college students, I supposed.
Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People painted in 1830
Check out my finished cover illustration (here).