Google Art Project is an excellent initiative to get some works of art, many of universally notable significance, onto the internet for viewing in detail. I sought to use this marvellous resource for both my own aesthetic pleasure and for satisfaction in my photographic and printing discipline. Below I have outlined the process to use Google Art Project to produce a remarkable print of a fascinating artwork. My aim was to produce an A2 print on my wonderful and truly maddening Epson 7900 printer.
I should iterate that this is not for commercial gain whatsoever and I have not and will not be selling any of these prints. The copying of great artworks by budding artists is a noble and long tradition! I am conscious people have placed a lot of time and money into the Art Project and within the respective institutions in which these artworks are held. Thank you to all those people involved in this great endeavour.
N.B. Please 'roll over' the selected image with your cursor to see a brief description of the stage.
I had not before seen Vittore Carpaccio's "Young Knight in a Landscape" at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid or in print or onscreen. It is astonishing to see it in this level of detail onscreen. The print I now have is wonderful and has set me off looking for more work by this incredible artist. I had a brief read about him after seeing this picture on the Art Project and I discovered that he studied under Gentile Bellini. I was amazed and delighted by this as Bellini is one of my favourite artists. This endeavour has led me back into discovering more about Carpaccio together with Gentile Bellini (and Gentile's father Jacopo and brother Giovanni - both exceptional painters).
Amongst thousands of artworks on the Art Project, I also discovered Rembrandt's, "Return of the Prodigal Son", to be found in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. I also have not seen this "in the flesh" but would love to. I also went through the layering and printing process with this at a larger scale to enable an A1 print at 375dpi. I think it was Andrew Graham-Dixon described this painting as one of the most emotional and beautiful ever painted.
Throughout this process I have thought about copyright. I think it is laudable that the museums and galleries involved in Google Art Project have allowed their artworks to be seen in this way onscreen. I am sure that both the museums and Google realise that the images they have photographed at high resolution could be manipulated to form a photographic file as I have done. It took me quite some time and labour, let alone high quality machinery. I hope that this does not displease the institutions involved although I can understand that this would make them edgy. With my own photography I am very conscious of copyright. It is not so much because I fear I would be losing income from my work, it is that I want to control my work's visibility to people. What I mean by this is not that I wish to limit my audience, not this at all. It is that with the work I produce I wish to always contain the integrity and intention of what came from me, or through me, into the world. Once it moves onto the internet I feel there is a loss of control and the integrity and intention diminishes. The image is clouded by its environment. It becomes ensnared in someone elses website design, surrounded by text, line and tones unconnected to the image itself. It then disappears as the internet user navigates elsewhere. Or, and I state this in dread, it is copied and pasted into some distasteful advertisement for some abominable organisation selling some sub-par object or service. Please reference this saddening nonsense to get a sense of what I mean: "Sure Advert".
In any case, in this instance, I hope to have done honour to the Google Art Project and, most importantly, to the artists themselves.
The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid