Kyoto-based artist Kazuhiro Tsuji has been shocking people with his incredibly lifelike sculptures of famous people. His perfect bust of Abraham Lincoln looks so real you’d swear he traveled back to 1865 to capture a color photograph. The same goes for his likenesses of art legends Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. While these sculptures may be new to you, you’ve probably seen Tsuji’s work before. He spent most of his career as a highly successful makeup artist in the film industry.
Recreating Abraham Lincoln is only fitting for Tsuji, and brings his interesting story full-circle. As a kid, he ran across an issue of Fangoria magazine featuring the makeup skills of Dick Smith. Here was detailed the recent work Smith had done transforming Hal Holbrook into Lincoln for a 1976 TV mini series (Holbrook would win an Emmy for his role). Tsuji was so inspired, he remembers: “I took a life cast of myself and attempted to transform myself into Lincoln, which was all the more difficult considering I’m Japanese.” After completing his very convincing transformation he sent photos to Dick Smith who immediately replied. Soon the two were working together, and in the years that followed Tsuji put his skills to work on films like Men in Black and Planet of the Apes, transforming actors into bizarre and yet incredibly believable characters (you’ll find images of his movie work here).
Last year, inspired by his love for hyper-realistic work and motivated to leave the stress of the movie industry behind, Tsuji started pursuing his art career full time. As you can imagine, the process to create each of his pieces is highly complex, involving a variety of mold making and sculpting procedures. Each piece is constructed from a variety of resins, silicones and pigments, and can take over 4 months to complete.
See more of Kazuhiro Tsuji’s incredible work on his personal website.
Tsuji at work on the bust of Lincoln:
A short conversation with Tsuji in his studio:
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