10 More Bojack References only an Art History Major Would Get

Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright - February 21, 2017

A large source of the show’s comedy is its background jokes, which include parodies of LA landmarks, shots at celebrity culture, and a fair amount of animal puns. Here are 10 more of Bojack's artistic references.

Season 1 Episode 9 - Rothko

Rothko paintings are often mocked for their multi million dollar price tags for paintings that are usually comprised of 3 or less colors. Wallace Shawn describes his obsession with them as a disease, one that most people fail to understand.

Season 2 Episode 1 – Basquiat

As a parallel to Haring’s work in Bojack’s home, hung in Herb’s office are works of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Both Haring and Basquiat were prominent in the 80s, fitting into the show’s love for overt time-period references. But also, the two artist were also close friends, similar to Bojack and Herb.

Season 2 Episode 7 – Obey Giant (Shepard Fairey)

Just a punny parody with a sheep since the original artist’s name is Sheppard.

Season 2 Episode 9 –Thomas Kinkade

In the middle of a high pressure standoff with police during a gallery break in, Princess Carolyn is taken by the serene idyllic scene painted by no other than Thomas Kinkade. While Kinkade was one of the most financially successful artists, his art was dismissed by art critics as “kitsch”. The show mocks it by entitling the piece, Fuzzy Glowing Nonsense. In some ways the show uses an often mocked painting, to mock Princess Carolyn’s false interest in this idyllic lifestyle she soon gives up.

Season 2 episode 10 –Olympia (Édouard Manet)

The conflict between high art and low-brow tastes is embodied in the Manet’s piece Olympia, which hangs over the dinner table in Abe’s and BoJack’s confrontation. Olympia stirred controversy when originally unveiled, as the woman in the painting was hinted to be a prostitute. This caused much debate as to the piece's artistic merits, just as BoJack questions the merits of Abe’s work. But of course it wouldn’t be Bojack without some sort of visual gag. Those who are familiar with the original by Manet will notice that the small cat in the corner is anthropomorphized in the show.

Season 3 Episode 2 –The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (Damien Hirst)

One of Damien Hirst, a member of the Young British Artists, most famous works, the piece is a conceptual work, comprised of a dead tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde. To many it represents the absurdity of art market prices, reportedly selling for somewhere between 8-12 million dollars.

Season 3 Episode 4 – Figure at the Seaside (Pablo Picasso)

The phallic and erotic symbols in the original painting portrays the figures interactions primitive and obscene, rather than something beautiful. The smooth almost rocklike figures are stripped to their essentials, in the same way bojack has been stripped to his bare essence underwater, unable to speak or escape through smoking or drinking.

Season 3 Episode 4 – Stag at Sharkey’s (George Bellows)

A realist painter and part of the Ashcan School, George Bellows is recognized for depicting daily lives of New Yorkers, particularly of underground boxing matches. Instead of two boxers the painting has been parodied as a fight between Ahab and Moby Dick.

Season 3 Episode 5 – Man Loading Donkey with Firewood (Diego Rivera)

Rivera was active member within the Mexican Communist party, whose works depict the struggles of the working class. The high selling prices of Rivera’s works are controversial for how they’ve become part of the capitalist system the artist rebelled against. That irony is further embraced by the show, hanging it in an overpriced restaurant in Beverly Hills Bojack parties at after finding out his film is a success.

Season 3 Episode 5 – The Kiss (Gustav Klimt)

Replacing the humans with snakes, the painting hung in famous actor Alexi Brosefino, is a reference to Gustav Klimt’s art nouveau work The Kiss. The painting captures an intimate and tender moment between two lovers, the same intimacy Diane tries to regain with her husband throughout this episode.

Be sure to check out the previous article "8 Bojack References Only an Art History Major Would Get"

Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright

Lacy is a senior studying Art History and Urban Education Policy. And like her coffee she's small, strong but comes with a kick. Lacy covers documentaries and gender representation in media.