CULTURE

The Cruel Intentions Cast Reunited to See Paintings of Their Most Iconic Scenes

Ryan Philippe, Selma Blair, and Sarah Michelle Gellar looking at a painting of a naked Sebastian
Courtesy of @sarahmgellar

Major cast reunions tend to happen on the occasion of an anniversary of a cult TV show or film. In a surprise turn of events, Selma Blair, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Ryan Philippe instead came together a full 23 years after Cruel Intentions hit theaters to see two paintings in the flesh. On Thursday—which happened to be Gellar’s birthday—the trio made a pilgrimage to Jeffrey Deitch’s Los Angeles outpost to take in Sam McKinniss’s Picnic (Cecile and Kathryn) and Bather (Sebastian).(Director Roger Kumble and producer Neal Moritz also came along.)

The first painting is a reproduction of the iconic scene in which the conniving Cecile (Gellar), who’s on a mission to sabotage her ex-boyfriend for dumping her for Kathryn (Blair), invites her to a picnic in Central Park. When the naïve and entirely unsuspecting Kathryn admits that she’s never been to first base, Cecile pulls her in for a kiss that she accepts with more enthusiasm than Cecile would have preferred. The second depicts another iconic in which a fully nude Sebastian emerges from a pool, leaving Annette (Reese Witherspoon), a Christian who’s made a vow to chastity that he intends to break, in shock. (Witherspoon and Philippe, who went on to marry, were dating at the time.)

Sam McKinniss, Picnic (Cecile and Kathryn).

Courtesy of Jeffrey Deitch Gallery

Sam McKinniss, Bather (Sebastian), 2021. Oil on linen.

Photo by Genevieve Hanson, courtesy of the artist and JTT

A bon vivant who’d fit right in with Cecile’s inner circle, McKinniss is best known to the public as the artist behind the cover of Lorde’s 2017 album Melodrama. But in the art world, the 37-year-old has long made a name for himself by making his obsession with pop culture manifest in painfully reproduced paintings of source material from Google Images. His goal is to elevate the type of imagery we take for granted—think paparazzi photos of Princess Diana in her “revenge dress” or Lindsay Lohan being bombarded with flashes in the mid-aughts—to the level of classics that he thinks they deserve.

If you’ve seen Cruel Intentions, it’s hard not to agree that the scenes in question merits some sort of canonization. And this time around, McKinniss went above and beyond in paying homage: He painted it response to Édouard Manet’s huge influential Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863). (More than 30 of today’s top painters joined him at the invitation of Jeffrey Deitch, who mounted their homages in an exhibition currently on view at his Los Angeles outpost.) Really, how could Gellar and co. not stop by to accept such an honor?