TIME Fine Art

This British Artist Made Fine Art Inspired by Celebrity Selfies

Supermodel and actor Cara Delevingne posed for several paintings

Selfies and fine art are rarely discussed in the same breath, but British artist Jonathan Yeo argues the two are more alike than most people might think.

For his new retrospective at Denmark’s Museum of National History, Yeo has painted portraits of two women who are famous (if not infamous) for their selfies: supermodel, actor and Instagram icon Cara Delevingne, who posed for the artist six times in the last 15 months, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who caused a minor scandal when she took a selfie with President Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at the 2013 funeral for Nelson Mandela.

“The way we manipulate and read self-portrait images, or ‘selfies’, in the last five years has far more in common with the activity of the 16th-century portrait artists and audiences than any art movement since the birth of photography,” he said in a statement ahead of the retrospective, which launches this weekend and covers the past 25 years of his career.

The exhibit will also feature portraits of Malala Yousafzai, Nicole Kidman and Kevin Spacey, whose House of Cards character, Frank Underwood, was the subject of a recent Yeo portrait that hung in Washington’s National Portrait Gallery.

“Just a few years ago everyone thought the camera had killed painting, but we are starting to see it has actually saved it,” Yeo said. “Thanks to camera phones, and social media such as Instagram, we are all starting to think like painters.”

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