Whether you paced yourself or binged the entire new season of the Netflix original show BoJack Horseman in one sitting like me, you probably noticed some famous artworks in the background while simultaneously crying over a nihilistic, troubled horse-person and realizing you need to take a good long look at yourself while you’re at it.
In typical Sartle fashion, we’ve gathered all the new art references we could find this season. I’d say there was a lot less art than in the previous seasons, but the creators probably have more important things to do than slip a few art references into the show, like developing the actual story, so it’s fine!
Anyway, here are all the art references we could find in the newest season of BoJack Horseman, in order of appearance. Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.
Todd’s office at WhatTimeIsIt.com includes this painting with an hourglass overlooking the sea. It reminds me a bit of Rene Magritte’s landscapes. The Belgian surrealist often put out-of-place objects in his landscapes to provoke viewers. The hourglass here prompts us to ask, “What time is it?”
Utopia, René Magritte, 1944
Not only did the creators of BoJack give us art, but they also gave us an artist and location! The Boston Museum of Amphibian Art is probably supposed to be the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I personally think this painting doesn’t look all that much like Monet’s Water Lily Pond, the Japanese bridge painting at the MFA Boston, as much as it does his other Japanese drawbridge paintings- he did a million of them- but that’s just my opinion.
The Water Lily Pond, Claude Monet, 1900, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Japanese Bridge at Giverny, Claude Monet, 1892
Diane’s poster is actually a combination of two Monet paintings. The figure on the drawbridge is taken from Monet’s The Stroll (La Promenade), also known as Woman with Parasol and Her Son.
La Promenade, Claude Monet, 1875
The woman in the painting is Monet’s wife Camille. All considering, the Monets had a pretty solid relationship- perhaps Diane wanted a reminder that a successful, happy marriage is possible, even after her divorce from Mr. Peanutbutter. Additionally, Monet remarried after Camille’s death to a woman named Alice who destroyed all photographic evidence of Camille, which I would say definitely parallels the initial jealousy between Diane and Pickles, Mr. Peanutbutter’s new girlfriend. Deep.
I just want Diane to be happy, okay?
I just have to say I love the asexual representation in this show. Here asexual couple Todd and Yolanda go to Yolanda’s house where her family is shockingly very sexual, and as you can see, there’s a lot of suggestive artwork in their house.
Calla Lily Turned Away, Georgia O’Keeffe (1923)
First we’ve got a blue version of Calla Lily Turned Away by Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe’s paintings were often characterized by viewers asking the question, “Is this a flower or is it a vagina?” Why not both?
The Mazarin Venus, Unknown (2nd Century A.D)
This Venus is accompanied by a dolphin to allude to her birth from the sea. It looks like the statue at the Buenaventura house might be a bird, though the beak is chipped (the original Mazarin Venus is badly damaged in real life) so it’s possible the statue is actually supposed to be a dolphin. The bird could also be a stork since it’s associated with fertility and childbirth.
Venus of Willendorf, unknown
Underneath O’Keeffe’s painting you can spot a table with several ancient mini statutes. Dating back to 25,000 BCE, this plump statue is famous worldwide for its exaggerated sexual features and possible use as a fertility fetish object.
You may have to squint a bit to catch the details here, but we can spot another O’Keeffe, a polka-dotted Lichtenstein-esque ice cream cone painting, and a stork version of Venus Victrix on the bookshelf. Personally, I think they should have gone with Evelyn Axel’s Ice Cream if we’re going to stick with ice cream as a sexual object. Though perhaps that would have been too explicit, even for a sexually-forward axolotl family.
Blue Flower, Georgia O’Keeffe (1918)
Family can be tough to deal with. In Princess Carolyn’s somber flashbacks to her life in Eden, North Carolina, we see a Thomas Kinkade painting above the couch. This is a delightful reference to Season 2 when PC becomes fascinated with a Kinkade-esque painting appropriately titled “Glowing Fuzzy Nonsense.”
Everett’s Cottage, Thomas Kinkade (1998)
Kinkade’s painting fits perfectly in this episode where Princess Carolyn reminisces about her past as she tries to create her own family. Thomas Kinkade said this about Everett’s Cottage: “In a dream I walked a fragrant path, and emerged through a gate to see a garden that loved me. My blooms surrounded me, and I tended them with care because I loved them. Perhaps a family is like that garden; each child a delicate rose that with the nurturing of a gardener can flourish and bring beauty to the world. Our newest little "bloom" is our daughter Everett. On her first birthday, I present this garden, and this cottage, in her honor!” Aww.
I refuse to believe that Princess Carolyn’s surreal transformation into a Tangled Fog of Pulsated Yearning in the Shape of a Woman isn’t inspired by Salvador Dali. Even the name “Tangled Fog of Pulsated Yearning” sounds like something Dali would say.
Apparently Tangled Fogs of Pulsating Yearning like art! Check out the Louis Wain painting at the left. As kitschy and contemporary Flower Eyes looks, Louis Wain was an active artist in the late 19th century. Some people believe Wain developed adult-onset schizophrenia that influenced his colorful, strange depictions of cats.
Flower Eyes, Louis Wain (1860-1939)
BoJack Horseman loves flashbacks. In this fantastic Halloween episode (which I would argue is always the best kind of episode, for any show, ever), we get not one, not two, but THREE recurring flashback Halloween party scenes. In the 1993 scenes, we get a glimpse of young BoJack’s taste in art. While we’ve already seen the Haring paintings a couple seasons ago, we haven’t seen the Jasper Johns-inspired painting of apples hidden way in the background there.
Dancing Dogs, Keith Haring, 1982
American Flag, Keith Haring, 1988
Zero-Nine, Jasper Johns, 1958
In the 2004 flashbacks, we see a Picasso-esque portrait of a horse as well as a feline version of The Green Cap by Alex Katz. It makes sense in the Bojack world for Alex Katz to be Alex Catz, painter of cats.
Portrait of Dora Maar, Pablo Picasso, 1937
The Green Cap, Alex Katz (1985)
I had a tough time finding an exact, human replica of this painting. It’s possibly inspired by Renoir’s Nude Sitting on a Sofa, which has a similar pose, gaze, and yellow-ish tint. It could have also been inspired by Alex Katz’s nude portraits, which are closer to this painting stylistically, or by the nudes of Pierre Bonnard or Egon Schiele. But it’s also possibly that whoever illustrated this scene simply wanted to include a painting of a sitting duck/smoking chick.
Nude Seated on a Sofa, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876
Untitled (Four Nudes), Alex Katz, 2011
Lisa Hanawalt, the producer and production designer for BoJack whose brilliant mind came up with all the character designs and art on the show, commented on our Instagram and let us know that this is actually a Lisa Yuskavage parody.
Thanks to her, we found it:
Big Blonde Squatting, Lisa Yuskavage. 1994
Now back to Alannah:
I don’t think these glorious paintings of butts allude to any particular artwork out there, but I just thought I’d include these for your pleasure. Who doesn’t love a nicely-painted butt?
And that’s it for the art in Season 5. Despite not having as much art as previous seasons, I thought Season 5 was incredible and I can’t wait for more! But I suppose we’ll have to wait until next season to see BoJack hopefully start his recovery with animal-versions of paintings in the background. While you’re waiting for the next season of
Philbert BoJack Horseman, check out our other posts about the art in previous seasons:
If you’ve spotted any other art references this season, let us know! In the meantime, don’t stop dancing ‘til the curtains fall~