These Pieces of Fan Art Are A Fitting Tribute to Tony Soprano

HBO / Getty Images
HBO / Getty Images

Yesterday, actor James Gandolfini died suddenly at the age of 51. While he played many great roles throughout his career, the one he will be best remembered for is his impressive portrayal of gangster Tony Soprano.  In honor of Gandolfini’s most famous character, there are some fantastic pieces of fan art immortalizing the intimidating waste management consultant.

Gandolfini was born to a father who was a native of Borgotaro, Italy and a mother who was born in the USA, but raised in Naples. Both of his parents were devout Roman Catholics and they constantly spoke Italian while at home. As a result, Gandolfini had close ties to his Italian heritage and often visited the country of his ancestors.

In high school, Gandolfini was voted “Class Flirt” in his school yearbook. As a teen, he played basketball and acted in school plays, though he didn’t fall in love with acting right away.

Gandolfini earned a Communications degree at Rutgers University, where he also worked as a bouncer at the student pub. After college, he moved to NYC and worked as a bartender and club manager. It wasn’t until he went to an acting class with a friend of his that he realized that he wanted to break into the business. He got his first big role in 1992, when he was cast in a Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire beside Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange. His career really took off after his first big screen performance as terrifying henchman in 1993’s True Romance. While he wasn’t a main character in the film, his chilling scene with Alabama was one of the most memorable parts of the movie.

In 1995, he worked with the director of True Romance again, this time in Crimson Tide. Again, he played an intimidating tough guy. As The Daily Beast points out, “Gandolfini, again, stole every scene he was in as the imposing henchman who had no problem doing Capt. Ramsay’s dirty work.”

"He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that," David Chase, who created The Sopranos, said in a statement. "He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time.  A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes."


Matthew Peyton / Getty Images

In 1995, Gandolfini starred in Get Shorty alongside John Travolta and Gene Hackman. This role gave Gandolfini his first chance to show off his comedic talents, rather than just acting as an intimidating monster. Of course, it was Gandolfini’s role in The Sopranos that made him truly famous. The show premiered in 1999 and lasted six seasons. In all, there were 86 episodes showing the difficulties faced by mob boss Tony Soprano as he tried to balance his position in organized crime and his role within his own family. "Jimmy was the spiritual core of our Sopranos family, and I am stunned at this devastating loss," Albrecht, former CEO of HBO and current CEO of Starz, said in a statement. "He was a great talent, but an even better man. My thoughts are with his family.”

Gandolfini won three Emmys for Best Actor in a Drama out of a total six awards he was nominated for during the show’s run. Despite his critical acclaim, the actor never felt comfortable with the press. "My father always said a million times, 'We're peasants,"' Gandolfini told Rolling Stone. "It's just a little odd for me, to get that slightly different treatment sometimes. And I'm uncomfortable with it. ... I want nothing to do with privilege."

During The Sopranos' run, Gandolfini loathed that people really thought he was the cold-blooded killer he played on the show. Shortly after the show started, he once had someone knock on the door of his apartment, "So I opened the door and the guy just turns white," Gandolfini said in a magazine interview. "All of a sudden I realize, 'Oh ... he thinks I'm Tony."'


Matthew Peyton / Getty Images

While the role was an easy one for him to take on—"I'm playing an Italian lunatic from New Jersey, and that's basically what I am," Gandolfini said—the character was drastically different from the real-life personality of the actor, who described himself as "a 260-pound Woody Allen." After The Sopranos ended, Gandolfini tried to shake his mobster image, playing the director of the CIA in Zero Dark Thirty, a comedic Senior Military Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense in In The Loop, gentle monster Carol in Where The Wild Things Are, and a strict, blue-collar father in Not Fade Away.

Gandolfini always maintained a sense of humor about his work, and he loved taking on comedic roles, once quipping, “The older I get, the funnier-looking I get, the more comedies I’m offered. I’m starting to look like a toad, so I’ll probably be getting even more soon.”

Writer, director and producer Steve Zaillian expressed his grief about Gandolfini’s death, saying, "I worked with Jim before The Sopranos and after it, and throughout these many years he has always been the same man. A real man, like they don’t make anymore. Honest, humble, loyal, complicated, as grateful for his success as he was unaffected by it, as respectful as he was respected, as generous as he was gifted. He was big, but even bigger-hearted. I’m so saddened to lose my friend, and sadder still for his family." The actor was in Italy this week to attend the 59th Taormina Film Fest in Sicily, where he was scheduled to participate in an event this weekend with Italian director Gabriele Muccino.

Gandolfini is survived by his wife, Deborah Lin, who just gave birth to a baby girl last October. He also has a son from a previous marriage, who was born in 2002.

Yesterday the world lost a truly gifted and humble actor. Friends, family and fans will mourn his loss for years to come.

7 of the World's Quirkiest Statues

The Jolly Green Giant looms over Blue Earth, Minnesota.
The Jolly Green Giant looms over Blue Earth, Minnesota.
Laurie Shaull, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Public sculpture can inspire, illuminate, and provoke curiosity. Look at the Lincoln Memorial or Auguste Rodin’s famed Thinker. But not all statues reach such lofty heights. Take a look at some monuments that stretch the boundaries of artistic expression.

1. Charles La Trobe // Melbourne, Australia

The Charles La Trobe statue in Melbourne, Australia is pictured
Charles La Trobe displays some inverted thinking.
Phil Lees, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Charles Joseph La Trobe was Victoria, Australia's first lieutenant governor, a post he held through 1854. La Trobe is celebrated for his efforts to bring the Royal Botanic Gardens, the State Library, and the Museum of Victoria to life. In 2004, sculptor Charles Robb debuted a sculpture of La Trobe at La Trobe University. The work is notable for being completely inverted, with La Trobe resting on his head. According to Robb, the point is that educational institutions should strive to turn ideas on their heads.

2. The Jolly Green Giant // Blue Earth, Minnesota

The Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth, Minnesota is pictured
The Green Giant statue offers 55 feet of vegetable advocacy.
Laurie Shaull, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s rare that food mascots receive a 55-foot tall tribute, but this monument to the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota, proves to be an exception. The Giant, of Green Giant vegetables fame, was unveiled in 1979 after a campaign by radio station owner Paul Hedberg, who wanted to lure travelers into the town. Curiously, Green Giant (the company) didn’t offer to fund this enormous and permanent advertisement, which was constructed using donations from area businesses. Hedberg wanted to install a button that would emit a “Ho, ho, ho!” sound, but ran out of money.

3. Man Hanging Out // Prague, Czech Republic

The 'Man Hanging Out' statue in Prague is pictured
Sigmund Freud is left dangling.
Greger Ravik, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Artist David Cerny thought he had the ideal way to depict the warring psychological state of Sigmund Freud, the famed psychoanalyst who was born in Freiburg (now Příbor, Czech Republic). Cerny said the statue, which debuted in 1996 and remains on display in Old Town Prague, is intended to depict Freud as he weighs his options between life and death—whether to hold on or to let go. At various times, police and first responders have mistaken the sculpture for a suicide attempt.

4. Transcendence // Portland, Oregon

Salmon sculpture in Portland Oregon
Transcendence depicts a large salmon breaking through a brick wall.
mike krzeszak, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Walk near Southwest Salmon Street in Portland and you won’t be able to miss Transcendence, a sculpture of a salmon that appears to be breaking directly through the building where Southpark Seafood is located. The 11-foot long bronze fish was created by Keith Jellum and seems to capture the irreverent mood that defines Portland.

5. The Fork // Springfield, Missouri

The giant fork sculpture in Springfield, Missouri is pictured
The attention-grabbing fork of Springfield, Missouri.

At 35 feet tall and weighing 11 tons, Springfield’s immense fork is among the world’s largest utensils. The fork was initially constructed for a restaurant by ad agency Noble and Associates in the 1990s. When the restaurant closed, it was relocated to the agency’s building, which is also home to the Food Channel. A fork in Creede, Colorado, is 5 feet longer but a mere 600 pounds.

6. Viaje Fantástico // Havana, Cuba

Sculpture of a naked lady on a chicken
Viaje Fantastico is one of the world's weirdest sculptures.

Those who gaze upon Viaje Fantástico in Havana—which consists of a naked woman riding a chicken and wielding a fork—will have to find its meaning for themselves. Located in the city’s Plaza Vieja, the sculpture was installed in 2012 by artist Roberto Fabelo, who has yet to provide context for the piece. Because the woman is nude, some have speculated it might be a nod to Cuba’s history of prostitution. The fork and chicken could symbolize that she has sold her body for sustenance. We may never know for sure.

7. Boll Weevil Monument // Enterprise, Alabama

The Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Alabama is pictured
The Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Alabama.
Martin Lewison, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

This elegant ode to pestilence was erected in 1919 in honor of the boll weevil, an insect that destroyed cotton crops in the area. Why celebrate it? Farmers had to look to other crops like peanuts, which helped diversify the region’s agricultural economy. The statue, which is near the Depot Museum, is a replica of the original that was damaged by vandals in 1998.

Turn Your Favorite Photos Into Works of Art With Google’s Art App

Edvard Munch's "The Scream"
Edvard Munch's "The Scream"
Edvard Munch, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

If your local art museum is closed, a new app from Google Arts & Culture will make the photos in your camera roll worthy of gallery consideration. As Gizmodo reports, the Art Transfer feature uses artificial intelligence to reimagine any image you upload in the style of a famous artist.

If you've already downloaded Arts & Culture for Android or iOS, hit the camera icon at the bottom of the app and select Art Transfer. From here, you can either snap a photo or choose an existing picture saved on your phone. Google then gives you a variety of art styles to choose from. You can transform your cat into Edvard Munch's The Scream, for example, or turn your brunch pic from last month into a piece of Yayoi Kusama pop art.

The feature doesn't just apply filters; it uses machine learning to edit the colors, textures, and even shapes in the image you upload.

Dog image inspired by Man from Naples.
Michele Debczak/Mental Floss, Google Arts & Culture

Pizza picture inspired by The Scream.
Michele Debczak/Mental Floss, Google Arts & Culture

Two years ago, Google Arts & Culture rolled out a similar feature that matched users' selfies to their art lookalikes. The difference with this one is that instead of showing you existing art, it creates an entirely new image by combining your photo with a famous artwork.

You can download Arts & Culture for free today from the App Store or Google Play. After having fun with the new feature, you can use the app to virtually explore landmarks, museums, and other cultural institutions from the comfort of your home.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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