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ARTS > Van Gogh copies in 3D look almost real

AMSTERDAM - Reuters

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This photo shows a copy of the Van Gogh painting ‘Sunflowers.’

This photo shows a copy of the Van Gogh painting ‘Sunflowers.’

It would be the envy of forgers: a technology that can mint near-perfect reproductions of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings at a rate of three a day, with differences only experts can detect.

So far, five of the Dutch painter’s best-known works, including “Sunflowers” and “The Harvest”, have undergone the treatment in a project backed by Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum using technology developed by the Fujifilm unit of Fujifilm Holdings Corp. “This is the next generation of reproductions. In the past we had lithographs, then photographs, first black and white, then colour. Now these are reproductions in three dimensions,” Axel Rueger, director of the museum, said. 

Each numbered copy on canvas with relief costs 25,000 euros. The complex production process means only three can be produced a day, although prices may come down as production becomes cheaper and easier, Rueger said.

That’s more than the usual $15 university dorm poster of “Sunflowers” but a lot less than the $82.5 million Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito paid in 1990 for Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr Gachet” at a Christie’s auction, or the $53.9 million Australian businessman Alan Bond paid for “Irises” in 1987. 

Proficient copies 

The market is unlikely to feel any impact from the cheaper but technically proficient copies, one art expert said. “I don’t see any harm done to rich Van Gogh collectors globally,” Jop Ubbens, head of Christie’s in Amsterdam, told Reuters. 

“It is a brilliant innovation from a merchandising perspective by the museum reaching out to a total new target group, something completely different and very creative.”

Like many arts institutions hit by government budget cuts, the Van Gogh Museum is turning to the private sector and commercial ventures for funds.

September/16/2013

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