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Dutch Masterpiece Is Turned Into A Harry Potter-like Animated Still Life

Like the 3D-printed version of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers," another famous work gets warped for the modern age.
October 24, 2013, 12:56pm
Images via The Frick Collection

Visual artists Rob and Nick Carter are blowing our minds again this month. First, they transformed Vincent Van Gogh's famous Sunflowers painting and modernized it by 3D-printing the plants. Now, they have taken another legend from the Dutch Golden Age, Ambrosius Bosschaert, and given his work a present-day spin by turning the artist's Vase With Flowers In A Window into a Harry Potter-like moving painting.

The work, presented by The Frick Collection as a complement to the Carter's exhibit Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis, animates the painting and lets it evolve over the course of three hours: flowers whither, insects creep, the sunlight changes. This is the intersection of time-lapse and studio painting at its most sui generis.

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“In museums, people spend more time looking at the labels than the paintings,” Nick recently explained to ARTnews. “We want to bring them back to the work.”

It's a fascinating topic--should we tamper with original masterpieces and adapt them for the present age? Can this work even share the same title as Bosschaert's painting? What if Bosschaert imagined the future of his flowers to look different from the ones the Carters created?

Regardless, the concept is fascinating, and supposedly took the artists more than 3 years and 5,000 hours to complete, as the animations were done by hand. Like their 3D-printed flowers, this work was a collaboration with effects studio MPC, also responsible for the visuals in films like World War Z and Life of Pi.

Whereas the Van Gogh recreation was presented at the Fine Art Society in London at an exhibition called Rob and Nick Carter: Transforming, the Bosschaert piece is being shown from October 22nd through January 19th at The Frick Collection in New York. The collection also includes the animated sequence, Transforming Vanitas Painting, that warps Ambrosius Bosschaert's oil painting Dead Frog With Flies into a kinetic adaptation. The original work can be seen below.

Even if you have reservations about toying with iconic work from the past, it's hard not to admit that this is a pretty ambitious project. What other famous works would you like to see animated? Let us know in the comment section.

For more on Rob and Nick Carter, check out their website. Read more about their installation in a press release from The Frick Collection.

@zachsokol