Slowly animated images offer new view of old masters

COURTESY JENKINS JOHNSON GALLERY“Transforming Still Life Painting.” a slowly moving image based on the 17th-century Dutch painting “Vase With Flowers in a Window

Rob and Nick Carter re-create significant paintings from history, enhancing them with current technology in hopes of inspiring viewers with 21st-century attention spans to slow down and truly look at what artists created during the golden ages. Gallery visitors can see recent projects by the London-based Carters in the pair’s San Francisco solo debut – an exhibition of digital renderings of works by Dutch and other old masters.

The exhibit, at Jenkins Johnson Gallery through Nov. 1, contains more than a dozen works by the Carters, a married creative duo interested in how people connect with art. Challenging viewers to quash the notion that the typical gallery guest looks at an art piece for only six seconds, they present “living” pictures that captivate the eye as they change subtly over minutes and hours.

The show includes selections from the artists’ “Transformation” series, a collaboration with the visual-effects studio Moving Picture Company. In these computer-generated items, the artists have meticulously preserved the appearance of the paint found in the works of the featured old masters. At the same time, they have animated the images to create time-lapse pictures that call for extended viewing.

In “Transforming Nude Painting,” the artists bring to life Venetian Renaissance artist Giorgione’s “Sleeping Venus” in a 140-minute work. Real-time footage of a model, stirring while asleep, shares the picture with a computer-created natural world in which clouds float and trees sway. An antique-looking frame holds a high-tech screen.

“Transforming Still Life Painting” features a precise replication of 17th-century Dutch artist Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s “Vase With Flowers in a Window,” shown on a loop. Buds open, daylight vanishes, and a butterfly, caterpillar, and other creatures move across the screen in this ambitious work.

The Carters also transform two-dimensional paintings – Vincent van Gogh’s popular still life “Sunflowers” (1888) and Judith Leyster’s watercolor “Black Tulip” (1643) – into three-dimensional sculptures. For this project, MPC created 3D digital files from the paintings and produced detailed lost-wax bronzes.

Additional highlights include “Transforming Diptych,” a re-creation of “Still Life With Pear and Insects” and “Still Life With Apple and Insects” by 18th-century German artist Justus Juncker. Insects fly from one electronic canvas to the other.

“Six Portraits in Six Colours,” a photography-based series, consists of works by Dutch Golden Age painter Michiel Jansz. van Miereveld. The Carters have replaced the plainer hues of the subjects’ ornate collars with vivid primary colors to make the project accessible to today’s viewers.

Rob and Nick Carter have been collaborating for 16 years. Their work is in the collections of the Mauritshuis, the Hague; the Frans Hals Museum, Netherlands; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Museum of Neon Art, Los Angeles, and other places.

IF YOU GO

Rob and Nick Carter

Where: Jenkins Johnson Gallery, 464 Sutter St., S.F.

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; closes Nov. 1

Admission: Free

Contact: (415) 677-0770, www.jenkinsjohnsongallery.com

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