Alex Gross's Now and Then captures superheroes as you've never seen them before

Over the weekend, we were pleased to check out an opening for Alex Gross

and Victor Castillo


at the Jonathan Levine Gallery. It was a vivid, strong show. Castillo’s bright blue jungle of black-faced combatants recalls the whole Johnny Gruelle esthetic for the Pop Surrealism movement.

Gross is a much better known artist—most of his paintings had already sold out—but what fascinated us wasn’t the eyeball-stinging colors and acid satire of this series, called “Product Placement.”

No, it was his Studio Series. Gross collects old portrait cards of average people and paints them over with characters from our pop culture heritage.





Like all these superheroes. And Star Trek and Star Wars. Which were then collected into this awesome book by Ginkgo Press.


Which we now own.

The originals went for $600 a piece, and that seemed like a fair price. The combination of the blank, ordinary faces of people long dead with the iconic costumes is riveting and somehow, disturbing. Here’sa bit more on how he does it.


And, given everything that’s gone on the last few weeks, the existence of this art and book was also highly….amusing.



  1. Pretty damn cool.

  2. thefreakytiki says:

    I love it!

    Such a simple concept yet I am so surprised that no one had done it before (but ain’t that just the way? ;) ).

    the Tiki

  3. jacob lyon goddard says:

    The photo that aquaman is based on is my great grandfather, john russell.

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