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Category Archives: Art

Painter Howard Hodgkin dies aged 84

Sir Howard Hodgkin, one of Britain’s greatest contemporary artists, known for his explosively coloured paintings of what he once described as “emotional situations”, has died aged 84.

The artist, a central figure in contemporary art for more than 50 years, died peacefully in hospital in London, only a few weeks after returning to the UK from India.

He was known for paintings, always on wood rather than canvas, full of vividly coloured, emotion-packed splodges, swirls, loops and smears. It may not have been obvious to the viewer but the works always had a subject and they were not abstract – he said that he had never painted an abstract picture in his life, that he was a “a figurative painter of emotional situations”.

The director of the Tate galleries, Sir Nicholas Serota, who curated Hodgkin’s first museum exhibition in 1976, led the tributes, calling Hodgkin “one of the great artists and colourists of his generation”.

He added: “His sensuous, intense paintings were infused with his love and understanding of late 19th-century French painting, especially Degas, Vuillard and Bonnard, and by his feeling for the heat and colours of India, which he visited on many occasions.

“Over the past 30 years Howard’s international standing has continued to grow with major exhibitions in Europe and America. His characteristic subject, the memory of a meeting or a conversation with a friend, resulted in paintings that radiate the emotions of life: love, anger, vanity, beauty and companionship.”

Hodgkin, although he had been increasingly frail, had been busy working up until his death with two important exhibitions due to open in 2017.

One is later this month at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), where the curator Paul Moorhouse was told the news of his death 3o minutes before they began hanging the works on Thursday. “You can’t imagine how that was.” he said. “It is a personal loss and it is a great loss to the art world.”

Moorhouse recalled Hodgkin’s enthusiasm for what is the first exhibition devoted to his portraits – his first reaction was “at last!”.

“He is one of those truly distinctive artists who redefined the way you look at the world. He also changed how artists represent their experiences … He understood that we don’t just interact with the world visually, we interact in terms of emotions and memory and he brought those into the language of painting.”

Moorhouse said Hodgkin was the opposite of an abstract artist. “He never painted a picture which did not have a subject, he couldn’t paint a picture if it wasn’t about something. It was the language he used, this complex language of visual experience, emotion and memory which, yes, was unfamiliar … People have to get on his wavelength and when you do you realise how rich it is.

“We want the exhibition to be a celebration of his achievements. If any artist was about life, Howard was. His paintings are a celebration of life.”

The NPG’s director, Nicholas Cullinan, said Hodgkin was one of our greatest artists. “Howard’s painting has always resisted classification and easy explanation. His work often appears entirely abstract, yet over the course of 65 years a principle concern of his art has been to evoke a human presence, making a significant contribution to our understanding of what a portrait can be.”

The other Hodgkin show opens at the Hepworth Wakefield in June, exploring the influence of India on Hodgkin’s work.

The gallery’s director, Simon Wallis, said they were devastated because the gallery was looking forward to Hodgkin being there and seeing the show.

“He had been incredibly generous and the last six works in the show are the last six paintings he had made in India.”

Wallis said Hodgkin was “one of the most important artists of our time … His love of colour and gesture and the relationship to the spirit of place and the spirit of people that he was associated with just seemed to radiate from the paintings.”

Hodgkin was born in London in 1932 and evacuated during the second world war to the US where, fortunately for a precocious child who had decided he was to be an artist, he was repeatedly taken to the Museum of Modern Art. Back in the UK he studied at Camberwell School of Art, followed by the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, Wiltshire.

He was part of a generation of artists who came to prominence in the late 1950s and early 60s, including David Hockney, Peter Blake and Patrick Caulfield, but success came far later to Hodgkin.

When he appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1994 he said the road to recognition in the UK had been hard as it was “enemy territory” for painters.

An important breakthrough was the Serota-curated retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford in 1976. Wider fame arrived after he represented Britain at the 1984 Venice Biennale and in 1985 he became the second artist to win the Turner prize.

7 Painting Substrates Acrylic Painting Tips

1. Canvas

Canvas is commonly used as a painting surface and offers many advantages: it’s absorbent, has a wonderful fabric texture, is lightweight and portable. Canvas supports comes in three types: unstretched, stretched and commercially made canvas boards. Canvas paper also comes in pads, but canvas paper feels very slick, not at all like real canvas fabric.

Stretching it yourself takes practice. You’ll need wood stretcher bars, a staple gun and stretcher pliers. Wrap the canvas around the bars and tack it down in the back, pulling it tightly each time. Start from the center and work outward. Stretched canvases can be purchased in standard sizes, or custom-made by your art store or framer. Those that are mass-produced with a machine can sometimes cost about the same or less than supplies for stretching it yourself.

2. Paper and Cardboard

Paper and cardboard are great support choices if you are a beginner or just want to experiment. Both are economical and easy to find. Both have absorbent surfaces that make washes and over-watered acrylic techniques possible. Select acid-free papers or cardboard, which are more archival and will not have impurities that might stain through into your painting.

3. Wood and Composite Panels

Wood is a great support for paintings, especially for thick applications of paint and other techniques that require a rigid, sturdy support. There are many types of natural wood available, as well as composites such as Masonite, high-density fiber board (HDFB) and medium-density fiber board (DFB). Birch makes great thin, lightweight panel for large paintings.

Wood has many impurities, resins and other natural elements that may seep through into paint layers, causing stains and yellowing. Always clean the surface first, coast it with a stain sealer, then prime before painting.

Composites are strong and have the feel of wood but don’t have a natural wood grain. Another type of composite product is particleboard, which is made of pressured sawdust. Moisture will cause the surface of particleboard to swell, so sand it after the first few coats of sealer and primer to smooth out the rough surface, and it should remain smooth for subsequent coats and painting.

4. Patterned Fabric

I love browsing in fabric stores to get ideas for colors, patterns and textures. Sometimes I buy small pieces of fabric just to hang around my studio for inspiration. A fun technique is to take your favorite fabric and use that as the starting surface to begin a painting. No need to stare at that white canvas with fear. Get a jump-start by beginning your painting with colors and patterns already there!

5. Silk

If you want to paint on silk and hope to keep the fabric soft and freely flowing to use as a banner, fabric installation or wearable art, fluid acrylics offer a more stable alternative than fabric dyes. Dye works well on silk, but is not as lightfast and stable as acrylic. This technique demonstrates how to use acrylic on silk for durable, lightfast, washable color while maintaining the softness of the fabric. This technique may be used on fabrics other than silk.

6. Metal

The two issues of concern for preparing a metal support are adhesion and rust control. This technique works best for ferrous metals like steel and will provide a long-lasting rustproof support for indoor or outdoor use, suitable for coating with acrylic paint. There are many types of metal to choose from. Research safety issues, availability and necessary additional preparation. This demonstration uses 11-gauge,1⁄8-inch (3mm) Mild Steel. Whatever metal you choose, have it professionally cut to your specifications.

7. Glass

One reason to paint on glass is to take advantage of its clarity. The main concern with painting on glass is adhesion. Etching or sandblasting the surface will add tooth. Both methods will make the glass slightly cloudy, so etch only in the areas where paint will be applied.

Purchase glass at any glass supply store and have it cut to size. Float glass and window glass are smooth, clear, inexpensive choices that will work well. Glass also comes colored or textured. If you are sandblasting, use glass that is at least 1⁄4-inch (6mm) thick. If your glass piece will be freestanding, cover the sharp glass edges with framing.

Tips to Save Oil Paints

1. Drying Oils

Drying oils used in artists’ paints are mainly linseed, safflower, poppy or walnut. We know that linseed oil is safe to work with because we can buy specially processed food-grade quality linseed oils in health food stores as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. The health food industry uses the term flaxseed oil in reference to the plant from which we derive linseed. We use both safflower oil and walnut oil in cooking. Poppy oil doesn’t appear to be popular in the health food realm, and references point only to its use in paints; however, manufacturers do use it in skin care products.

2. Stabilizers

The stabilizers, if used, are metallic fatty acids. Because they’re mixed into the paint, they do not pose an independent threat to a person using an art material.

3. Soaplike Substance

Water-soluble oils contain an ingredient that would be considered close to soap, which makes water combine with the oil for assistance in cleanup.

Pigments can be as benign as common dirt or as harmful as many other chemicals are to the human body. Many of the paints used by artists from the Middle Ages to the late 20th century had varying degrees of toxicity. Even today, while the most highly toxic pigments have disappeared, no pigment should be considered nontoxic. The one property that makes oil paints so safe to use is that the pigment is bound in a liquid vehicle (the drying oil). Therefore the problem of dry powder finding its way into artists’ lungs or flying about and landing on their families’ food is eliminated. Even the nastiest of pigments, which no longer are readily available, wouldn’t give off toxic vapors or be otherwise harmful unless taken directly into the digestive system by mouth or, in the case of some pigments, they came in direct contact with unprotected skin.

Safe-Use Practices for Oils

1. Keep paint and solvents off your skin.

I would remind artists that repeatedly allowing oil paints to splatter on their hands and arms is a bad practice. That’s especially true when an artist removes paint from the skin with a solvent. Skin, the largest organ of the human body,
is a sponge for taking in substances. Unbroken skin may be good at repelling germs, but an artist negates that protection when he or she tries to remove paint from skin using a solvent-soaked paper towel. Skin absorbs solvents, and when you mix paints with a solvent, the paint can enter the body as well. When using oil paints, slathering paint on oneself and cleaning it off with solvent poses the greatest risk.

Common sense and careful studio practices are crucial to keeping the paint on the painting and off the body. My advice to painters who display a tendency to get paint all over themselves is to wear disposable gloves and to protect other areas of the body with clothing or an apron. When oil paint does get on the skin, remove the paint with plain soap and water. Painters who hate gloves should at least use a barrier cream, sold in art stores, that provides some degree of protection against paint components entering through the skin.

2. Paint in a well-ventilated area.

Use extra caution with paints classified as alkyd quick-drying colors. Unlike traditional oils, these contain a small amount of odorless solvent; you should not use these in a closed studio space unless you outfit that space with continuous airflow and exchange. When you use alkyd colors outdoors or in a well-ventilated studio, handle them in the same way as traditional oil paints.

Many artists, of course, don’t have studios, and some admit to painting in their kitchens. This is one place where food and painting materials have too great a chance to interact. In addition, the potential for fire rises when solvents come into close contact with cooking appliances. If possible, set up a painting area in another part of the home where you can establish ventilation that constantly changes the air in the space. As I’ve explained, when it comes to poor ventilation, the problem generally isn’t so much with the paint as with the solvents the artist uses for cleanup and paint dilution.

Waste Management for Oils

How to Use a Solvent Can

Open the can only when necessary and close it immediately after use. Wipe excess paint onto disposable paper towels before using solvent to clean brushes. This makes your solvent less prone to becoming overly dirty with paint. The solvent not only lasts longer, but you decrease your exposure to the solvent because you can clean your brushes quickly. Place the used paper towels in the closed metal can.

What to Do When the Solvent Can is Full

When the pigment waste in your plein air solvent can accumulates to the point of coming close to the bottom of the inner basket, it’s time to clean the solvent can and dispose of the pigment in the container. Let the can sit for several days until the pigment waste has settled to the bottom and some clear solvent remains on the surface. Slowly decant the clear solvent into another container for temporary storage. (You may want to purchase a second solvent can to use in tandem with the first one.)

Remove the inner basket from the solvent can containing the pigment waste. Pour the pigment sludge onto a flat piece of aluminum foil folded around the edges to create a shallow pan. Make sure you support the foil with a palette or sturdy piece of cardboard. Let the sludge dry outdoors in a safe place that won’t be disturbed. Fold the aluminum foil around the dry sludge, and take it to your local waste processing facility for disposal. Many counties have paint and hazardous waste reclamation programs for properly disposing of these types of materials.

Another option is to let the paint waste dry and then mix it with an alkyd medium to make a paint-like material that you can use to tone canvases or panels for future paintings.
With an adequate, well-ventilated space and a waste disposal method that limits solvents escaping into the studio, a family can live safely with an oil painting artist.

Tips To Make Your Art Project Exciting

Paint on something interesting

Time and time again I see students who paint or draw on white cartridge paper and nothing else. There is nothing wrong with cartridge paper. Some cartridge papers – especially thick, gutsy, wetstrength ones – are beautiful. Sometimes, a thin, flimsy sheet (the kind that warps at the mere hint of moisture) is all you need. But, often, experimentation and creativity with media brings considerable advantage. There is a joy –a wonderful aesthetic discovery – that takes place when you paint on something unexpected: a surface with history that brings with it colours, textures, marks and irregularities of its own.

Draw on coloured paper

The first thing you can do is embrace papers of other colours. Select those that integrate seamlessly with your coursework project (creams, browns, greys and blacks are likely to be more appropriate than psychedelic pink, for example).

Dark colours can be great for drawing on with light mediums; mid-tone papers (those that are a ‘medium’ tone – not too dark and not too light) are also excellent. As in theJuan Gris example above and the Indian ink work below, the colour of the paper acts as the mid-tone for the drawing; dark and light areas are added as required (this results in a piece that appears three-dimensional very quickly).

Embrace textured paper

There are lots of textured papers available. Some are machine made, pressed with a uniform mesh of bumps or grooves; others are handmade, with flecks of fibre, thread, tissue and other items intertwined within the paper pulp.  If you don’t have access to textured papers, you can easily find or make your own. Tear apart packaging or disassemble things you find in the trash. Source whatever scraps you can and draw on them, or cut, tear and glue them into a painting.

Discover the beauty of drawing on tracing paper 

Many people don’t realise that tracing paper is not just useful for tracing – it is an exciting drawing surface in its own right (see examples below by Debby Kaspari andMercedes Baliarda). Tracing paper can be used to make translucent overlays or glued onto white backing paper (be careful when gluing, as some tracing papers warp hugely when in contact with moisture). The shiny surface creates rich, glossy images that love to smudge and blacken your hands. Permatrace – a thick, waterproof drafting film – is particularly exhilarating: it produces some amazing outcomes with ink.

Use ripped, scrunched, folded, ripped, or stained paper or tissue

Tissue paper can be scrunched and glued onto a painting (shaping as required) to create a textural surface that can be painted over. As with other textures, dry-brushing will exaggerate them and make the fine web of creases more visible.

Paint or draw on patterned or textured wallpapers or other decorative surfaces

Care needs to be taken when integrating patterned items; it can be easy for the pattern to dominate and overpower a work. When appropriate imagery is selected,  however, patterned items can provide excellent drawing surfaces or collaged material.

Tips to Paint with Understanding Color

If you’re an artist and don’t understand color, you’re like a traveler who left your luggage at home. Sooner or later you’ll have to go back and get it if you want to get very far.

Art without color? Inconceivable! But why settle for ordinary color when you can create radiant works of color? Beautiful color is no happy accident. You can have fantastic color, too. Color can be learned.

To explore color, you can use any type of artists’ paint, pastel, oil pastel, colored pencil, yarn, fabric or paper collage—whatever medium you work with. Make collages with colored papers to plan your paintings; make watercolor or acrylic sketches to design your oil canvases. Color knows no boundaries in art media.

Once you learn how to mix and arrange colors, exploring harmonious color triads and expanded palettes along the way, you’ll have the tools to build a solid foundation for creative color. In no time, you’ll start solving the mysteries of color and be well on your way to becoming a master colorist. That means that, if you love color, you can unlock its secrets—if you work at it. So, begin your travels now in the wonderful world of color, and have a great trip.

Within these pages you’ll find fabulous artwork by top artists to inspire you in your color journey. The illustrated glossary in chapter two (and many more terms defined throughout the book) will help you build your color vocabulary. You’ll also have a brief introduction to some newer paints and media: interference and iridescent colors in acrylics, PrimaTek mineral pigments, and alcohol-based inks for the adventuresome. Triads and color schemes have been expanded with modern pigments.

Tips to Working with Vintage Materials

Vintage materials add unique touches to mixed-media art, telling a story and providing texture, dimension, color, and patina. Whether it’s bumpy rust on an antique hinge, a hand-written ledger entry, or a threadbare piece of an old quilt, these items have a story that artists love to share.

A few expert tips and techniques can go a long way in working with these treasured bits. We’ve gathered several ideas from our artists just for you, along with helpful resources. Pull some vintage items from your stash and start creating!

1. Old photos offer plenty of possibilities for art journal pages, collage, and more, but sometimes it’s tough to give up the original. Kristen Robinson and Ruth Rae used a transfer technique and incorporated it into an assemblage titled “Cherish” for their book Explore Mixed Media Collage. Start with a photocopy of a vintage photo (a laser print will also work) and apply gel medium over the surface. Place the copy image-side down onto fabric; in this case, a vintage white baby dress. Once the gel medium is dry, wet the back of the paper and roll the paper off gently with your fingers. Allow to dry.

2. Vintage jewelry is hard to resist, but it can be pricey. Good news for mixed-media artists—you don’t need perfectly intact pieces to create stunning, one-of-a-kind jewelry. In the article “Simple Vintage Assemblage Jewelry” in the November/December 2014 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, Andrea Verrill showed how to recycle parts of vintage jewelry with resin-filled bezels to make a cohesive piece. She says it can be overwhelming to sift through boxes of trinkets to decide what to use to make a jewelry piece, and offers some advice: First, keep in mind the color and theme of your piece, and reusability of the item. Second, consider components such as broken watch parts, charms from old earrings, and damaged crimp beads. Seen with new eyes, they can all be incorporated successfully. Don’t be afraid to combine disparate pieces. Verrill frequently joins chunky chains with refined ones, and rhinestone drops with matte charms.

3. The next time you’re at a thrift store or flea market looking for vintage materials, pick up a few old books and turn them into unique mixed-media wall art. Jenn Mason showed how in the article “Paper Hearts” in theFall 2014 issue of Paper Art magazine. Choose a sturdy book cover, one that’s not  brittle, and draw a heart shape on the cover in pencil. Create 2 small heart-shaped templates in different sizes from chipboard or cardstock, and cut 20-30 hearts in each size. Stack the templates, fold them in half lengthwise, and poke two holes along the fold for sewing. Use the templates to create sewing holes in the cover, within the heart shape. Bonus tip: Place a folded towel underneath the book cover to protect your surface while poking the holes. Thread a needle with embroidery floss, tie a knot in the end, and sew the hearts to the book cover. Take the needle from the back side of the cover, and sew the hearts in place. The hearts can be bunched up, laid flat, or nestled against each other. Continue adding hearts, creating more sewing holes if needed.

4. When Roxanne Evans Stout pulls together vintage materials for her collages, she often chooses bits and pieces that have meaning to her, something to think about when creating your own collage. “Morning Poem,” featured in her book Storytelling With Collage, has a scrap fabric background, to which she’s attached bailing wire bent into a circle, a vintage keyhole, and remnants of a garden ornament. “These objects are all different but all connected and beautiful in their simplicity,” she says. “This collage is made of small pieces of my life that all hold a memory or a special meaning.” Vintage pieces, even if they’re found, can express a cherished memory or set a mood.

5. Dina Wakely incorporates vintage photos on her art journal pages, but she gives them a decidedly contemporary look. In Art Lesson Volume 10: Wielding Complementary Colors, she created a layered collage art journal spread using stencils and acrylic paint. For collage elements, use vintage images printed on plain paper; laser-printed images work best, since the toner won’t bleed. Tear the edges of the image and adhere it to the page with gel medium. Paint around the image with white paint, making sure the paint connects to the sides, top, and bottom of the page. While the paint is still wet, paint an analogous color around the image without covering all of the white; this helps ground the image into the background. Add another analogous color. Paint the image, using complementary colors to make it pop on the page. Add shadows and details with water-soluble crayons. Outline the image with a water-soluble pencil, like a Stabilo All pencil.

6. Working with some vintage materials can be tricky; old papers and fabrics may be especially fragile. Cas Holmes has a technique for combining such pieces so they’re sturdy enough to use as book pages, and she explained it in her article “Stitching a Story” in the March/April 2016 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. Lay out a rough composition of the papers and fabrics you want to use. Layer the pieces, making sure that they overlap each other by at least ¼”, with no gaps. Bonus tip: Take a photo of the layout to reference the design as you go. Cover your work surface with plastic sheeting, brush each collage element with a dilute mixture of cellulose paste, and layer it back on the plastic sheet. When dry, peel off the backing plastic and iron the collage between Teflon sheets or pressing cloths. Add details and borders with machine stitching, creating patterns and designs with free-motion stitching. If you like, add some hand stitching as well. Sew a zigzag stitch along all four edges of the piece.

Tips to View Your Photo Reference for Accurate Drawings

We have clear definitions in our mind, stored much like a computer. When we think of an eye, for instance, instantly a preconceived image pops into our head. The same goes for all of the facial features. So as we draw, rather than really looking at our reference, we have a tendency to draw what we “think,” instead of what we “see.”

Our photo reference gives us all the information we really need. But often, we lack the focus to truly analyze it properly. What we end up with in our drawing is usually a composite; a blend of what we’re actually looking at and what we’re recalling from our minds.

Even when someone is focusing on their photo reference, I’ve found that the placement of their photo is usually all wrong. Often it’ll be off to the side, at a completely different angle than their artwork. So they look at the photo, then look away to work on their art. Again, they’re drawing from memory this way. There’s no way to be accurate doing this.

The solution for all of this is proper placement of your photo reference while you are drawing. Here are some good tips to follow.

  1. Tilt your work. When drawing, it’s very important to tilt your work towards you. Your face and your drawing paper should be parallel one another. This prevents any distortion. (This is why they created drafting and drawing tables that tilt towards you.) Yes, it may feel good to draw flat, like we did as kids, but that’s what creates errors and distortions. Drawing flat elongates your work. It may look great flat, but tilt it towards you, and whoops! You may end up with a huge, stretched out forehead like Herman Munster!
  2. Keep your photo close. Tape your photo right next to your artwork. This makes it easier to keep your eyes going back and forth from one to another for accuracy while you draw.
  3. Concentrate. As you are drawing, place your index finger on your photo, in the exact place you’re placing your pencil on your drawing. Go slowly and move your finger to match what you draw. This keeps your hand and eyes working together. You’ll be much more accurate this way.
  4. Use straight lines to see angles. Use a grid if you have a hard time seeing angles. The straight vertical and horizontal lines of the grid will break down the shapes into increments, making the tilts and angles much easier to see. Sometimes just dividing your photo into four equal squares with one vertical and one horizontal line is enough to help you see it properly.
  1. This is the most important tip! Check your alignment!  Be sure your photo AND your drawing are at the exact same angle. Look at the references provided. This is one of my drawings in progress. In the first example, the photo is close to the art, but it’s NOT at the same angle as the drawing. Can you see how the tilt of the little girl does not match? This will lead to inaccuracy as you draw.

In the second example, the photo is straight up and down, which matches the paper. But the drawing itself is tilted more to the left than the image in the photo. While subtle, this too will lead to inaccuracy.

The third example is the correct way to draw. The photo has been tilted a bit more to the left to match the slight tilt of the drawing. If I had allowed the photo to be viewed straight up and down, it wouldn’t have matched and the angles would be slightly off. These small inaccuracies lead to problems when it comes to capturing a likeness.

The Art Copyists Giving The Renaissance

The curator at the National Gallery could not contain her wonder. Calling me over to the replica of the Borgherini Chapel that has been installed as part of the gallery’s Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition, she pointed out a surreal detail. Not only has this reproduction of a piece of Renaissance architecture got hyperrealistic reproductions of the frescoes, marble decor and a half-domed alcove – it even has a modern plug socket sunk into the plaster.

That immaculate eye for detail is typical of the work of Factum Arte, a Madrid-based studio whose combination of digital analysis with assiduous craft is transforming the way we see art. I have been watching their work develop for nearly a decade. I am now convinced it is the most important thing happening in 21st-century art – because it can quite literally save civilisation.

The new kind of high-fidelity 3D reproduction being pioneered by Factum Arte is going to abolish the difference between past and present and make distance no obstacle to seeing any masterpiece. We are entering an age when museums can – this is no hyperbole – have their own perfect replicas of the Sistine Chapel,Titian’s Assumption in the Frari church from Venice, or Mantegna’s Camera degli Sposi from Mantua.

The Victorian creators of the cast courts in London’s V&A would be amazed – and immediately commission all the above projects. These two vast galleries at the V&A are full of plaster casts of classical, medieval and Renaissance art and architecture. Michelangelo’s David, Hadrian’s Column and Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise are among the wonders on view. Today we find this legacy of the Victorian passion for art history fascinating, yet we have the technology to go much further. A plaster cast of a Renaissance sculpture is only a pale copy compared with the hi-tech remakes pioneered by Factum Arte and a few other visionary enterprises such as the Insitute for Digital Archaeology, which put a replica of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph in Trafalgar Square last year.

The first time I encountered this mesmerising new age of reproduction was in Milan in 2008. Factum Arte had made a facsimile of The Last Supper for an exhibition by Peter Greenaway. It was superbly convincing. Its founder Adam Lowe told me at the time about another project, in which he was remaking Veronese’s stupendously large painting The Wedding of Cana. Since then Factum Arte’s creations have got ever more impressive, from reproducing the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings to creatingPiranesi’s fantasy furniture for an exhibition at the Soane Museum.

With the immaculate and freakily convincing simulacrum ofSebastiano del Piombo’s Borgherini Chapel for the National Gallery’s forthcoming exhibition, it is clear we are on the verge of a new age for art history: a renaissance of the Renaissance.

There is a chance to rediscover the magic of Renaissance art and architecture and popularise it as never before. TheBorgherini Chapel is not even especially famous: visitors who climb the hill to the church of San Pietro in Montorio, above Rome’s river Tiber, where it can be found, usually go there to see Bramante’s compact architectural masterpiecethe Tempietto in its courtyard. Yet by putting a loving and astonishingly real-seeming replica in the National Gallery, Factum Arte revives this work of art: our fascination with the reproductive technology inspires a fresh awe at the original it so passionately recreates. Far from creating some heartless museum of fakes for the post-truth age, this new kind of replica is a key to re-enchanting us with the art of the past.

Just as the Victorian age loved Michelangelo so much that people who could not get to Florence wanted to at least see a plaster cast of David at the V&A, or remind themselves of it between pilgrimages, so today’s feeling for art can be totally transformed by the combination of digital scanning, 3D printing and traditional craft that now makes it possible to reproduce art and architecture with such uncanny perfection, plug sockets and all.

A Sistine Chapel for every city – why not? Imagine if everyone in Britain had access to the marvels of the European Renaissance. It would change the way we see art, history and perhaps ourselves. For our loss of the passion for those achievements is a modern tragedy. A Sistine Chapel in Britain might have reminded us of what Europe really is when we voted on the EU last year.

Herzog & de Meuron to Overhaul Abandoned Brooklyn ‘Bat Cave’ Into Art Center

The Gowanus Batcave, a graffiti landmark and one of the last remaining holdouts of Brooklyn’s cycle of gentrification, will be transformed into a manufacturing center for the arts by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architectsHerzog & de Meuron.

Commissioned by the non-profit Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation, the renovation will overhaul the 113-year-old building. Originally built as a power station, the property has fallen into disrepair since its abandonment in the 1950s. In the subsequent decades, the building has gone through several iterations as a punk hangout, rave venue, a squat for drifters and the homeless, and a graffiti temple.

Acquiring the building in a $7 million deal in 2012, the foundation has long considered what to do with it. According to the New York Times, initial designs for turning the building into artist studios were discarded in favor of creating workshops for Brooklyn’s expanding creative economy. Under the current plans, the space will house facilities for metal and woodwork, ceramics, textiles, and printing, in addition to spaces for exhibitions and events.

According to DeZeen, Herzog & de Meuron will refurbish the large turbine hall, and reconstruct the boiler house that was demolished following the building’s decommissioning.

“By preserving, restoring and reconstructing essential elements of the original Power Station, some still intact and some long-ago demolished, this design strengthens its relationship to the immediate urban context,” Ascan Mergenthaler, senior partner at the firm said in a statement. “The aim is to demonstrate sensitivity to the program by integrating existing layers seamlessly into a functional, modern manufacturing facility.”

The foundation and the architects plan to break ground on the ambitious project before the end of the year. The work is expected to take three years, with doors opening in 2020.

Katie Dixon, the foundation’s executive director said in a statement that “Herzog & de Meuron’s design approach celebrates the existing iconic Turbine Hall and maximizes the potential of the property to ensure its long-term industrial viability.”

Of course, this is the same firm that transformed London’s Bankside power station into the world renowned Tate Modern museum in 2000, and later designed the switch house expansion, which opened last year.

Damien Hirst’s Planned Venice Exhibition Targeted by Animal Rights Group

 Damien Hirst’s hotly anticipated exhibition in Venice—slated to open to the public on April 9—has been hyped by many as the YBA’s triumphant return to the limelight following several years of market and critical decline. Indeed, three weeks ahead of the opening, the artist is making headlines once again but for all the wrong reasons.

On the night of March 6, some 40 kilograms of animal dung were dumped at the doors of one of the exhibition’s venues, the Palazzo Grassi, along with a banner that read “Damien Hirst Go Home! Check Out This Work of Art! 100% Animalisti.”

Dung and banner outside the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, in protest of Damien Hirst’s upcoming exhition. Courtesy 100% Animalisti.

On its website, 100% Animalisti, the animal rights group behind the action, explained that Hirst “is one of those fake artists (like Hermann Nitsch andMaurizio Cattelan, whom we have already taken care of) who build their ephemeral fortunes on the use of animals—stuffed, quartered, often killed for the occasion—as the ‘material’ of their performances.”

Hirst’s exhibition, titled “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” will be staged between the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, the two Venice venues of the François Pinault Foundation.

It’s Hirst’s first major solo show in Italy since his 2004 retrospective at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples.

The ambitious project—10 years in the making according to press materials—doesn’t feature any dead sharks or other animals floating in formaldehyde, although it does entail a return to oceanic themes.

In a few images and video teasers for the show, a group of sunken sculptures covered in algae and surrounded by shoals of fish can be seen, dramatically illuminated, at the bottom of the sea.

According to iNews, a spokesman for Palazzo Grassi said that no animals would be involved in the exhibition.

But for the animal rights group, when it comes to Hirst, the damage is already done. In their statement, translated by artnet News, they said:

Hirst is famous for exhibiting slain animals […] and for the use of thousands of butterflies whose wings are torn and glued on various objects. Death and the taste of the macabre serve to attract attention. Then wealthy collectors such as Saatchi and even the prestigious Sotheby’s artificially inflate the prices of Hirst’s junk. It’s a squalid commercial operation based on death and contempt for living and sentient beings.

[Hirst’s exhibition in Venice] is a further insult to a city of Art, of REAL Art. 100% Animalisti is against the commercial use of the life of our animal siblings.