Contemporary Artists Respond to the Old Masters at the Princeton University Art Museum

Photographs by artists including Vik Muniz, Nina Katchadourian, and Ori Gersht take inspiration from Renaissance and Baroque art

PRINCETON, NJ – A new exhibition, Art about Art: Contemporary Photographers Look at Old Master Paintings, invites viewers to discover new connections between iconic artworks in the European canon and art being created today. Open August 19 through November 5 at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art on Hulfish gallery, the exhibition features thirteen contemporary artists interrogating the history and function of artistic influences and genres across chronology, geography, and medium.

Art about Art is curated by Ronni Baer, Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Distinguished Curator and Lecturer, with Peter Fox, curatorial associate in European art.

“This exhibition reveals how vital the art of the past remains to many artists working today,” said Baer. “The selection will encourage viewers to consider how contemporary photographers respond in various ways to famous compositions, seek to explore emotions as expressed in historical paintings, address issues of identity that were as pressing then as now, and apply new technologies in surprising ways.”

The exhibition includes significant works from well-known contemporary artists, including Vik Muniz, whose Double Mona Lisa, rendered in peanut butter and jelly, is inspired by both the original by Leonardo da Vinci and Andy Warhol’s prints from the 1960s; Bill Viola, whose video work, The Quintet of the Silent, is inspired by the passions of the onlookers in scenes of Christ’s Mocking as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch and his followers; and Ori Gersht, who shatters floral arrangements inspired by Old Master painters and captures the split-second explosions. Also on view is a diptych from Nina Katchadourian’s series Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style, in which she presents herself as both the man and woman of a fifteenth-century Flemish couple, evoking their poses and using bath tissue to mimic their costumes.

“As a teaching institution, it is part of our mission to assure that works of the past can still be understood as living, breathing objects that were contemporary in their own time, and thus still have the capacity to spark inquiry,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “This exhibition’s examination of historical works of art, some of them well known, invites us to reengage with history—often in humorous ways—to help us contend with issues affecting society and culture today.”

Art about Art: Contemporary Photographers Look at Old Master Paintings is organized and presented by the Princeton University Art Museum.


About Art on Hulfish

Art on Hulfish showcases a roster of exhibitions led by photography and time-based media that consider issues of profound impact on twenty-first-century life. Located at 11 Hulfish Street in downtown Princeton, it encompasses some 5,500 square feet of space for exhibitions and public programming, ranging from drop-in activities to scheduled work with artists. Admission is free. Launched in December 2021, the gallery is presenting four exhibitions each year through late 2024, during the time when the Museum’s dramatic new facility is under construction.

Art on Hulfish is made possible by the leadership support of Annette Merle-Smith and Princeton University. Generous support is also provided by William S. Fisher, Class of 1979, and Sakurako Fisher; J. Bryan King, Class of 1993; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; John Diekman, Class of 1965, and Susan Diekman; Barbara and Gerald Essig; Rachelle Belfer Malkin, Class of 1986, and Anthony E. Malkin; the Curtis W. McGraw Foundation; Tom Tuttle, Class of 1988, and Mila Tuttle; Nancy A. Nasher, Class of 1976, and David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976; Gene Locks, Class of 1959, and Sueyun Locks; and Palmer Square Management.

Lead funding for Art about Art has been provided by the Len & Laura Berlik Foundation. 

About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, featuring collections that have grown to include more than 114,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe. Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world.

The main Museum building is currently closed for the construction of a bold and welcoming new building, slated to open in Spring 2025.

Art on Hulfish, a gallery project of the Art Museum located at 11 Hulfish Street, is open daily. Art@Bainbridge, a gallery project at 158 Nassau Street, is open Tuesday through Sunday. Admission to both galleries is free.

Please visit the Museum’s website for digital access to the collections, a diverse portfolio of programs, and details on visiting our downtown galleries. The Museum Store in Palmer Square, located at 56 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton, is open daily, or shop online at

Media Contact: María Huiza,, 917.355.5286