Santa Classics represents a long progression of self-portraits which Ed Wheeler has been doing for 25 years.

Ed Wheeler has been working as a photographer for 35 years. To maintain his sanity he has always worked on personal projects. One that has run for over twenty years is his Santa self-portraits. At first it was a once a year production, and used as a client Christmas mailer. Ed would dress up in the suit and engage in non-Santa activities. Things like: Santa gets a tattoo, drives a sports car, spray-paints graffiti on a wall, or goes bowling. In 2011 while standing in front of Emanuel Leutze Washington Crossing the Delaware, Ed realized that Santa was destined for more illustrious situations. Since then he has been cataloging over 200 paintings that call for the elf’s intervention. He has produced 40 finished pieces, and plans to continue making more.

In October 2013, the Philadelphia Museum of Art became the first museum in the world to publish a series of Santa Classics cards. Santa Claus visits a Paris ballet studio, hangs colored lights on a Giverny footbridge and dances at the Moulin Rouge in a series of inventive holiday cards. Dressed as Santa, photographer Ed Wheeler has artfully inserted himself into 11 masterworks that appeal to art lovers worldwide, with humor and a reverence for the originals. These whimsical cards are available now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art shop and online store.

The Santa Classics will be exhibited at bahdeebahdu in Philadelphia from December 6th – 21st

ed-wheeler-santa-classics-designboom01‘the birth of venus’ by sandro botticelli, 1486
ed-wheeler-santa-classics-designboom02‘the supper at emmaus’ by caravaggio, 1601


class’ by edgar degas, 1880

ed-wheeler-santa-classics-designboom04‘pygmalion and galatea’ by jean-leon gerome, ca. 1890


dance at the moulin rouge’ by henri de toulouse-lautrec, 1890

ed-wheeler-santa-classics-designboom06‘the creation of adam’ by michelangelo, 1511–1512

ed-wheeler-santa-classics-designboom07‘japanese footbridge’ by claude monet, 1899

ed-wheeler-santa-classics-designboom08‘the dream’ by henri rousseau, 1910

all images courtesy of Ed Wheeler