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Rob and Nick Carter
Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by DeWitt Cheng

Rob and Nick Carter, "Transforming Nude Painting (after Giogione, 'The Sleeping Venus,' c. 1510)," 2013, 2.5 hour looped film, computer, frame, 32 x 47 x 4"

Continuing through November 1, 2014

Are art audiences conditioned by media overload so that they are unable to contemplate static paintings as old-school art mavens do? New work by the English artists Rob and Nick Carter show that the Old Masters may be successfully updated — animated, subtly — through digital wizardry (wire-frame polygonal-mesh models, texture mapping, etc.), provided here by The Moving Picture Company. Nick Carter: ”In museums people spend more time looking at the labels than the paintings. We want to bring them back to the work … We want people to slow down, to look deeply into a painting, and discover more and more the deeper you look.”

The Carters’ videos framed as paintings are laboriously produced technological marvels that add movement to classic painting genres. Their version of Giorgione’s "Sleeping Venus" (1510), entitled "Transforming Nude Painting," replicates the composition of the Renaissance classic with ‘live’ footage of a young woman with impossibly perfect skin who sleeps, motionless but for her slow breathing, as the light over the landscape slowly changes; the ornate gold frame surrounding the 4K monitor adds to the real/unreal effect. (Lech Majewski’s digitally enhanced 2001 film, "The Mill and the Cross" played similar art/life games with Brueghel.)

The Carters play with the still life genre, too, adding temporal effects (breeze, lighting changes, insects) to their re-stagings of two works by Ambrosius Bosscharert the Younger: "Dead Frog with Flies" (1640) becomes "Transforming Vanitas Painting" (2012-13) and "Vase with Flowers in a Window" (1618), shown in San Francisco at the Legion of Honor (“Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection” [2011]), becomes "Transforming Still Life Painting" (2012). The latter involved creating separate animated 3D models of each flower and insect, then combining these elements to match the painting. Two bronze sculptures replicate paintings by other Dutch masters: Judith Leyster’s "Tulip Book" (1643) and Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers" (1888).

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