Paintings from the Bonnefanten’s collection of old masters exhibited alongside digital versions. The presentation Pixel Perfect? allows you to reflect on whether digital reproductions enhance the art experience or in fact jeopardise it.

Digital Artworks

As a museum, you aim to present the very best artworks in the world. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible by a long way, due to the fragility of the works or the sky-high transport costs. One solution is to exhibit a digital reproduction. Of course a digital copy of an old master painting can never be better than the original. But are there ways to employ digital copies that can benefit museums and the public?

The Italian company Cinello has developed DAW® (Digital Artworks). On a high-resolution 4k monitor, an artwork is reproduced in a limited edition, in its original dimensions and in an identical copy of the painting’s frame.

Contemporary copy

Another option for a museum in the absence of an original artwork is to exhibit a contemporary copy. After all, copying art is something that has been done through the ages. The question raised here is: which do you prefer to look at – a painted 17th-century copy or a digital reproduction of the original?

Pixel Perfect? exhibits two copies of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525/1530-1569). The digital reproduction of the Parable of the Blind Man shows a painting that is too fragile to ever leave the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples. With the help of DAW®, it is possible to exhibit a digital version of this work. Hanging alongside it, for comparison, is Winter Landscape with Bird Trap from the workshop of van Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/1565-1638). This is one of the 127 copies of the original painted by his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Is all that glitters gold?

Are the material qualities of a painting actually shown to advantage on a screen? This question is also raised in Pixel Perfect? A digital reproduction emits light, but a painted work doesn’t. It actually absorbs light instead. The question is whether you can see the texture of the paint and the brushstrokes in the copy, just like in the real painting. To find out, we can compare a digital reproduction of Sano di Pietro’s (1405-1481) Lucia with the original Madonna by the same artist from the Bonnefanten collection. How is the worked gold leaf of Lucia conveyed digitally?

So digital reproductions present new opportunities as well as posing problems. Judge for yourself.

With thanks to: Cinello


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