Have you ever looked at a paparazzi snap of Britney Spears and found yourself reminded of a 17th Century Caravaggio painting? Three art history buffs have launched a Twitter account - Tabloid Art History - that matches celebrities with their artistic counterparts to hilarious results, and they have amassed almost 35 thousand followers along the way. The account and its accompanying website is curated by Elise Bell (a History of Art - BA [Hons] student from Edinburgh College of Art), Chloe Esslemont (an English Literature student at the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures) and Mayanne Soret (a University College London graduate).

ECA's current Web Intern Rachel Lee spoke to Elise and Mayanne.

Like many students in a state of procrastination, Elise and Chloe were sending each other pictures to make one another laugh. Elise then decided to share the pop culture and classic works of art comparisons they’d been making on social media. “I set up the Twitter account in Lovecrumbs, a café right next to the ECA. I gave Chloe the password, and then the rest is history.” They were soon joined by their friend Mayanne. The account launched in October 2016, and has been growing in popularity ever since.

Elise says the team have received a fantastic amount of support from staff at ECA for their original idea. “It makes all the difference to know that you have some actual academics quietly rooting for you, and also to feel like the institution you’re working within actually cares about what you do with your time there.”

 

 

 

Having grown up during the reality TV star and blog revolution (i.e. the two Hiltons; Paris and Perez), the three women absorbed many an iconic pop culture happening. Mayanne believes this has impacted their generations’ view of public figures, whether they are members of the ‘Z-list’ or serious actors. Mayanne also dislikes the term “guilty pleasure” - she believes no one has to be consuming high-brow, intellectual art all the time, and sometimes people need entertainment that is simply that: entertaining. By being a part of Tabloid Art History, Mayanne feels she has become more comfortable with all her interests – and encourages everyone to be the same: “You can enjoy different things, at different levels, times, or for different reasons without beating yourself up - give yourself a break!”

And this is part of the identity of the Tabloid Art History account; debunking the misconception that art history is a snobby, members-only affair. “What’s important is that we maintain our ethos,” says Elise, “which is improving accessibility to art history through social media while also playing around with the ridiculousness of it all.”

 

 

 

And the women have certainly achieved their goal. Elise recently received a message from an A-Level student who loves the Twitter account and is now inspired to study Art History at University as a result. Elise says that she is, “happy at this point” in her life, and that the only goal remaining for the near future being “able to one-day frame paintings on my wall rather than sticking them up with tape!”

The Tabloid Art History team have recently launched a pop culture and art history mash-up zine. Volume 1 of TAH is out now to read online for free, you can purchase a physical copy online, or at one of the stockists that will soon be selling them in London and Edinburgh.


Are you interested in studying History of Art - MA (Hons) at Edinburgh College of Art?