Ankur Patar

People don't typically talk about "stock images" and "art" in the same sentence. Stock images -- supplies of photos and illustrations that can be purchased cheaply online for creative projects -- are usually somewhat fake and awkward looking (think "women laughing alone with salad") and offer plenty of fodder for hilarious BuzzFeed stories.

But a new project by Ankur Patar, an award-winning illustrator and "creative re-toucher," uses stock photography in such a creative and masterful way that it really deserves the label of art.

Patar has just completed a project in which he remade Rembrandt's "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," a painting that has been lost since 1990, when it was stolen from the Gardner Museum in Boston. But instead of drawing or painting the image, Patar recreated it using only stock photography -- taking a face here, a wave there, and molding them all into a pretty incredible likeness.

One of the pieces below is a Rembrandt; the other is made of stock photos. Can you tell which is which?

For me, it's the hair that gives it away. Here's a close-up of Patar's recreation:

Ankur Patar

The project is an ad campaign for Adobe, which tasked four artists from around the world with recreating famous lost paintings. Patar's painting uses 247 stock images and took him 20 days to complete. Like Rembrandt, Patar also paints his own likeness in, at the front of the boat.

Patar also posted some of the stock images that were his raw material. How he worked in the graduation robe and mortarboard, I still can't figure out.

The ad campaign includes some time-lapse videos showing how these creations were made. In the video, Patar copies in and manipulates stock art to slowly amass a likeness of Rembrandt's masterpiece.

Rembrandt's The Storm on the Sea of Galilee was stolen in 1990. Watch as digital artist Ankur Patar re­‐creates it entirely out of Adobe Stock as part of the Make a Masterpiece campaign. (Goodby Silverstein & Partners/Adobe Systems)

The ad campaign assigned three other artists to similarly re-create lost paintings. Here's a time-lapse video showing how French artist Jean‐Charles Debroize used stock imagery to recreate Caravaggio’s Saint Matthew and the Angel, a painting that was destroyed in 1945, during a bombing campaign on Berlin:

An Ecuadorian artist named Karla Cordova also recreated Frida Kahlo’s The Wounded Table, a painting which disappeared in 1955 on its way to Moscow:

Karla Cordova

U.S.-based artist Mike Campau recreated Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Cathedral Towering over a Town, which was destroyed by a fire in 1931:

Mike Campau

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