Feature Story: 03 September 2008

Old Masters, new technology: HP helps take art into the open


» The Grand Tour
» Picture perfect
» Take a Da Vinci home

The Blue Dancers by Degas

How can technology change the way we look at art? Try hanging Old Masters in the city streets.

In Moscow, this summer, HP and the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum turned the city into an outdoor art gallery with 51 weather-proof replica masterpieces hanging on building walls. One of the ‘street artists’ was named Rembrandt.

Reproducing works of fine art is a centuries-old business, and the processes really haven’t changed that much — until now. HP technology is transforming the way art is reproduced and even the way we experience it.

“When someone sees Rembrandt’s Portrait of an Old Woman in the open as the sun suddenly hits it, or Prisoners Exercising by van Gogh or a work by a Russian artist – say by Repin or Korovin – that already is an achievement for us here at the museum,” said Irina Alexandrovna Antonova, Director of the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum.

The works of art are exact copies of their masterpieces printed on canvas by large-format HP Designjet printers Z6100.

The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour in London

HP has a long history of supporting art initiatives. Last year HP completed a similar project with the National Gallery in London: the Grand Tour.

The origins of the Grand Tour date back to the 17th Century, when the wealthy upper classes undertook a journey of cultural enlightenment across Europe, in a life-changing trip that could last for months or even years.

Now, thanks to the UK’s National Gallery and HP, the idea of the Grand Tour has been turned on its head. Rather than the public seeking out its art – art seeks out its public, interrupting their everyday lives and reminding them of the treasures that are in museums. In June 2007, the streets of London’s West End were turned into an al fresco gallery – with 44 perfect, framed reproductions of National Gallery paintings hanging in the most unexpected places between Soho and Seven Dials.

From London, the Grand Tour made its way to York. HP reproductions of Monet, Van Gogh, Ramsay and Carracci graced the busy streets of the historic city centre this summer, celebrating the richness and diversity of the permanent collections housed at the British National Gallery and York Art Gallery.

Picture perfect

HP Designjet Z6100 Printer

For HP, the standards of colour reproduction required by the world’s great museums provide the ultimate testing ground for print technology. HP Z-series printers were selected for their embedded spectrophotometers and special software, delivering unmatched colour rendition.

These printers are transforming the way professional photographers, graphic designers and digital fine artists create large-format images.

“The colors of the prints made by our printer will not fade for more than 200 years. We are sure images made by this printer will be worthy of the works of art,” said Konstantin Kimelman, HP Russia, Imaging and Printing Group Manager.

Take a Da Vinci home

Curators from around the world are increasingly turning to technology to aid in the preservation of artistic masterpieces, with dozens of museums, galleries and cultural organizations relying on technologies provided by HP to support their efforts.

For example, HP has provided the National Gallery in London with some of the technological tools used in the conservation process of its 2,500 works of art. Large-format HP printers create accurate, life-sized reproductions of the paintings. This technology allows the staff to examine them in the most minute detail and guides their conservation work.

The National Gallery and HP have also collaborated to create Print on Demand, the first system of its kind in the world. Print on Demand lets you order a reproduction of any work in the collection. The high-resolution digital images are made directly from the paintings -- rather than the photographic transparencies used for conventional posters.

So you can take home a perfect digital copy of your favourite masterpiece.

HP at Photokina – the world of imaging

Graphic professionals from around the world will have a look at an HP museum-quality print from Moscow at Photokina, the world's leading photo and imaging trade fair held in Cologne, Germany. The pastel blue in an HP DesignJet replica of Degas’ Blue Dancers -- one of the Pushkin Museum’s most treasured works -- is almost indistinguishable from the rich and luminous original. HP is showcasing the Blue Dancers alongside its professional printing portfolio to highlight both the creative and business potential of digital print production.

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