How World Cup Photographs Are Creating 'Accidental Renaissance' Artwork

July 11, 2018

Soccer photography, like the sport itself, can produce wildly unexpected — but nonetheless satisfying — results. That’s particularly true of images from the World Cup, the sport’s biggest international event.

Photographers at the 2018 FIFA World Cup have been working almost as hard as the players to capture the game’s biggest goals, wildest turns, and overall visual cacophony. Some of their results have resembled images from “Accidental Renaissance,” a Reddit forum where users share pictures that evoke the composition, lighting and other hallmarks of Renaissance artworks.

An outstretched Cristiano Ronaldo reminiscent of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Somber fans after a loss that could have been carved in stone by Michelangelo. Fans madly celebrating goals as if characters in a nightmarish work by Hieronymus Bosch. These are just some of the World Cup’s “Accidental Renaissance” photos so far.

Aleksandr Golovin of Croatia, left, challenges a Russian player in their quarterfinal match on July 7, 2018.
Zhong Zhenbin—Imaginechina/AP
Croatia's defender Domagoj Vida (down) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the quarter final game between Russia and Croatia on July 7, 2018.
Antonin Thullier—AFP/Getty Images
France's goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, left, makes a save during the quarterfinal soccer game between Uruguay and France on July 6, 2018.
Grigoriy Sokolov—Sputnik/AP
Mexico fans after Mexico's loss to Brazil in the Round of 16 game on July 2, 2018.
Emmanuel Dunand—AFP/Getty Images
Jordan Pickford of England collides with Ante Rebic of Croatia during the Semi Final game on July 11, 2018. ; Apollo Pursuing Daphne by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Matthias Hangst—Getty Images ; National Gallery of Art/Getty Images
England fans celebrate during the Sweden vs. England game from Bristol, Britain on July 7, 2018.
Ed Sykes—Reuters
Croatia's defender Dejan Lovren vies with Russia's midfielder Denis Cheryshev during the quarter-final football match between Russia and Croatia on July 7, 2018.
Antonin Thulillier—AFP/Getty Images
France's forward Olivier Giroud reacts after a challenge during the quarter-final football match between Uruguay and France on July 6, 2018.
Antonin Thulillier—AFP/Getty Images
Referee Nestor Pitana intervenes with Uruguay's Diego Godin after clashing with France's Kylian Mbappe on July 6, 2018.
Damir Sagolj—Reuters
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary painting by Guido Reni ; Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona
Getty Images