Dutch Remasters: Michael Winokur’s Epochal Collision of Art and Technology

In a world ever rife with evolving visual media, photographer Michael Winokur, accompanied by stylist Nichole Kreglow, undertakes an artistic project that seamlessly melds the grace of the Dutch Renaissance with the crispness of modern-day technology. Their journey, termed “Dutch Remasters” and including the images “A Portrait of Sister Macintosh” and “Portrait of a Lady in a Millstone Collar” serves as a testament to the timeless allure of the classics, even as it comments on contemporary symbols of status. Winokur’s inspiration draws from the greats of photography and classic painting. Uncover the process and the passion behind this masterful collaboration.

Sister Macintosh & Portrait of a Lady in a Millstone Collar: Two Images, Two Ideas, One Point of Reference

By: Michael Winokur

I imagine most case studies are written after a project has been fully realized. In this case, the two images Graphis asked me to discuss came from slightly different projects, were both inspired by a single idea and are now part of an ongoing body of work. Let’s call it “Dutch Remasters.” 

As a photographer, I’ve considered various creative role models and reference points. Of course, there’s Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Chuck Close, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Huge influences of mine. Who influenced them? It’s not much of a leap to realize that any artist interested in portraiture has influences that map to Rembrandt, Van Eyke, and the Dutch Masters. I’ve been looking for inspiration in all these places for years, studying their lighting and composition. Until recently, I thought of these masterpieces in the context of museums and art textbooks, ideas to be analyzed seriously and regarded delicately. 

Up to this point, I was pretty much paying attention only to the way they were seeing light. Then, I had the idea of doing a homage to Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” replacing the earring with an Apple Airpod. Once I had that idea, it opened the door to play with the elements in these paintings – collars, candles, wimples, books, drapes, and windows.

One of the reasons these images work is that the objects I’m taking from the paintings, collars, for example, were largely functionless status symbols. Wearing a status symbol is an idea that’s as accepted today as it was in 17th-century paintings.

Having the general idea is one thing, but knowing what to do with these elements is another story. I met stylist Nichole Kreglow through her artist’s agent, Mary Domenico, at a LuLu Artists Collective in Berkeley, CA. Since Nichole and I had been discussing the drapery used as backgrounds in some of these paintings, I knew she would understand what I was thinking about when I brought up the Pearl Airpod concept.

A Note from Stylist Nichole Kreglow:

I was excited about the idea when Michael approached me about styling a shoot based on late Renaissance/17th-century Dutch portraiture but juxtaposing it with modern-day technology. Based on his concept, I knew I wanted to use contemporary pieces made with luxe fabrics in modern but historically referential silhouettes. 

I believe it all made for a harmonious yet striking set of contrasts between the softness of the fabrics vs. the hardness of the technologies used, light vs. shadow, old-world religious devotion vs. modern technological fervor.

The shoot came together beautifully with Michael’s dramatic lighting and conceptual direction, Melinda Cazarez‘s gorgeous hair and makeup work, and our stunning model, Allison Fluetsch.

This is all self-assigned work. If I may use an analogy, it’s leg day. I’m working on different muscle groups at different times. I propose that all creatives should think this way a bit. It’s not just about making new work for a portfolio or a pitch, but think of giving yourself assignments that keep you creatively limber and excited in the areas you want to pursue further.

Michael Winokur is an award-winning, mission-driven video creative director/film director/photographer who builds and leads creative teams from concept through award-winning, audience-centric deliverables. Directs actors and non-actors to craft narratives and deliver engaging performances that tell clear, compelling stories. An inventive, cross-disciplinary thinker who draws inspiration from diverse disciplines to bring original ideas to every project. A former journalist with a knack for getting to the heart of a story. Winokur works with agencies and brands in the technology, health, life sciences, education, finance, and editorial sectors and offers a range of pre and post services in support of video and photo projects from ideation and concept to production and post. Whether it’s real people for a healthcare or life sciences campaign, models for an editorial spread, actors on a film set, or wild animals for a museum, Winokur looks to express individual identity as well as capture our common humanity. An award-winning director and photographer focused on stories and characters, Winokur developed a documentarian’s eye while working as a photojournalist for national newspapers. Telling stories through direct, compelling, and beautiful images remains a common thread and driving purpose.

Social: Instagram

Nichole Kreglow is a fashion/costume designer, wardrobe/prop stylist and assistant, visual merchandiser, and musician who grew up in San Diego but currently resides in Oakland, CA with her husband Jess and cat Black Francis. Clients of hers include Apple, American Giant, Banana Republic, Coca-Cola, Disney Rewards, FabKids, The Gap, Levi’s, Mark Foehringer Dance Project, New Mexico Film Studios, Old Navy, Parents Magazine, PLAE Shoes, Rivian Automotive, SFMOMA, Stitch Fix, Tile App, Uber/Visa, Under Armour, Walmart.com, Z Gallerie, and more. She is obsessed with 1920s-1960s vintage clothing and mid-century modern furniture, and has a deep love for 1960s R&B girl groups and 1990s Brit Pop and Shoegaze music. She sings and plays guitar and keyboard/synthesizer in a San Rafael-based band called Nyte Skye. She is currently available for freelance projects and commissions.

Social: Instagram, LinkedIn

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Author: Graphis