The horrific image of the UC Davis cop caught on film pepper spraying nonviolent protesters has gone viral, but another version has become a roaring hit on the Internet: a meme using the image of Lt. John Pike edited in famous works of art.
The images of the Pepper Spraying Cop created using Photoshop have gone viral on the Internet and social media since the incident happened at UC Davis on Friday, but who is the artist behind the meme?
James Alex, an American artist living in Edinburgh, Scotland, told MSNBC why he created and posted the images to his Tumblr account.
I started to think about the UC students using a peaceful method of protest, i.e. sitting, and how truly revolutionary such a passive event like sitting could be. Then I started to think about paintings being passive yet revolutionary especially in their own time and yes, now too, Alex told MSNBC. Popping in the image of the officer resulted in something quite dynamic with a multitude of meanings, the least of which is playing with the idea of historical events and how unamerican a violent act can be.
The casually walking Lt. John Pike was edited into famous works of art like Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic from 1875, Willard's The Spirit of 76' from 1875, Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World from 1948, Eakins' Arcadia from around 1883 and Manet's Le Déjeuner Sur L'herbe from 1863.
Other artists have followed suit, adding the UC Davis cop to Picasso's Guernica and to celebrity photo shoots including Leonardo DiCaprio. Another Web site has been dedicated to posting memes of the UC Davis Cop, Casually Pepper Spray Everything Cop with nearly 200 images uploaded as of Monday evening.