Not Struck On The Donkey Jackets, But Apart From That…

Film, London, Observatory


Am I the only one who found this rather wonderful and oddly touching? The shot was taken in the Olympic Park to recreate Georges Suerat’s ‘Bathers at Asnieres’ and uses construction workers from around the project with the bathers replaced by landscape gardeners, engineers, designers and security staff.

The original iconic painting was created in 1884 by the French post-impressionist and is housed at The National Gallery, London. It’s a study version that hangs in Chicago (see comments).

It bodes well for more elliptical ideas loosely attached to the Olympics in the months ahead, hopefully based on people, buildings and art. I vote for giant Sooty and Sweep puppets behind placed over the Gherkin and the Shard, Captain Pugwash in the olympic pool and Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men at the Chelsea Flower Show. I’m sure we can find places for Beryl the Peril, Professor Quatermass, the St Trinian’s girls and Barbara Windsor somewhere.

And before anyone points out that they’re not donkey jackets, please note that I am paraphrasing from another national treasure, Victoria Wood.

10 comments on “Not Struck On The Donkey Jackets, But Apart From That…”

  1. Simon says:

    I love the use of the construction workers with their hi-viz jackets and waistcoats. It highlights how great the composition of the original painting was. I hope we see much more of this sideways thinking around the Olympics.

  2. Alan G says:

    *Puts donkey jacket back in trunk – muttering under breath at yet another employment opportunity gone…*

  3. Gretta says:

    I like that. it’s clever, without being ‘clever’. Will they do a re-pose of ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe’ or ‘Birth of Venus’, I wonder? Possibly not, being middle of Winter over there and all.

    I’m all for Sooty and Sweep making an Olympic appearance. Well, Sweep, at least. Sooty was a bit of a goody-goody(and don’t get me started on Sue…she set the women’s movement back by decades!).

    Really, though, there simply must be room for Dangermouse, Penfolds and co.

  4. Sam Tomaino says:

    Devotees of this iconic painting must see the actual thing at the Art Institute of Chicago. You will not believe how big it is. It covers an entire wall.

  5. Laura J says:

    I like this, although I shall have to look up the derivation of ‘donkey jackets.’ Meanwhile, my mind was blown by the concept of Birmingham as an intentional destination; you might be amused or horrified by the New York Times’s 36 Hours In… article. qui google.

  6. admin says:

    Sam, you’ll find that the version in Chicago is not the original, but you do have L’Apres-midi Sur La Grande Jatte, the basis for ‘Sunday In The Park With George’.

  7. Helen Martin says:

    This is wonderful but I wish the one man had been able to relax his back a little more. I like being reminded that painters use real things for their pictures.

  8. Helen Martin says:

    It’s only examining it now that I realize how out of proportion the boy on the edge is. Either he’s a giant or the man sprawled on the grass is tiny.

  9. maria says:

    its nice but the olympics of london are a carve up on an epic scale featuring the most corrupt councils and mp’s in europe, hackney and tower hamlets, im an architect and anything involving this type of mega construction and confication of common land is something waiting for scotland yard to investigate but they won’t will they?

  10. Sam Tomaino says:

    Oops, I confused the ‘L’Apres-midi Sur La Grande Jatte’ and the ‘Bathers at Asnieres.’

    I don’t know if the latter is in Chicago or not.The former is there and it’s HUGE.

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