The musketeers are coming back!

In front of the Chateau / hotel where in 1992 many heads of state stayed during the European Conference when the Treaty of Maastricht, Netherlands was concluded, now stands a group of musketeers with all their splendid regalia! This is not a masquerade or film. This is a prestigious group of cast bronze heroes from the Famouspainting Nightwatch (1642) by Rembrandt. This is a bronze monument to the painting, and, at the same time, the composition’s second life in three-dimension! This version of “Nightwatch” simultaneously becomes a monument to Rembrandt. But in fact is it a monument? It looks more like a substantive magic transformation.

Who dared to recreate the great Dutchman's canvas in the form of a sculpture?
The answer: sculptors Mikhail Dronov, of Moscow and Alexander Taratynov, who now lives in Holland.
The concept for the project seems to have occurred frequently, but this frequency, like the focus of a big lens, refracts many different circumstances. Taratynov’s studio, for many years, has been decorated with wallpaper reproducing a life-size reproduction of the “Nightwatch” painting. One day, it occurred to Dronov, seemingly of his own accord, to reproduce it in as a sculpture. Rembrandt ‘is’ after all a legendary personality! The sculptors were just on track with the master himself; and have now worked hard for many years. And true to the spirit of our times, the artists have implemented and promoted the project themselves.

The work went in stages, one figure after another. Modelled characters were put in front of an enormous reproduction of the painting and ‘ritually extruded’ from the flat counterparts. Each figure is independent and is set on a separate bronze plinth, one meter square. The cast figures were transported to the park in front of the hotel which is in the quietest part of Maastricht. Their future fate has not been decided, but the authors want to install the whole group in Rembrandt’s home town of Amsterdam. It is Sisyphean labour to recreate the whole squadron of larger then life size figures! It is also a Sisyphean labour to “justify” the project; to prove, persuade and cajole the minds of administrators and officials into acceptance.

Is recreation of pictorial art by means of sculpture new, has art history known anything of the kind? Of course, these types of creative work powerfully support each other; there has always been a certain interchange between the two. Pictorial art plays the role of a universal mirror. The connection between the two most dramatically manifested itself in baroque art. Palace and church interiors of the period feature a wide scope and magnitude of complicated visual effects. Transferred from flat illusionary shapes into three dimensional ones; a transformation of painting into sculpture. Doubtlessly, the very idea of a plastic metamorphosis, born by the baroque epoch, is close to Dronov and Taratynov.

The “Nightwatch” design opens outwardly, the characters are moving towards the spectator, at a point of “going beyond the frame”. They are eager to become three-dimensional. It is this effect, elicited by the master himself, which was realised by the sculptors.

Dronov and Taratynov did not copy the original; they “recreated” it, transferring it to a new dimension. But the recreation was documentarily accurate. Step by step, they recreated every figure in detail. Carefully, as precisely as possible, they modelled details of the arms, pleats on the clothes, fabric texture, the ornament embroidered on fabric and chased all in metal. Maintaining, above all, the quality of the portraiture. The authors tried to accurately portray the characters from the painting. Even though, not all the faces are painted clearly and the background has them partially overlapped or they are faintly seen in the light-and-dark of the medium. The sculptors conjectured the characters, looking for the right models, finding similar type.

Dronov and Taratynov live in different countries, but together they created an impressive, serial sculptural epic. A striking example of creative affinity and mutual understanding. Not only did they efficiently organized the work process, they, above all, determined a system of sculptural devices.

You can walk into a picture only in a fairytale. But you are able to walk into “Nightwatch”, examine the bronze characters close up. Mikhail .Dronov and AlexanderTaratynov created a monument; but not a static monument bound to one place. The monument is movable. It can be taken from city to city, set in various places with any combination of figures. The bronze warriors, like gigantic chessmen, may move around freely, forming new designs. Thus, in such an unusual way the life of the great canvas can be continued. Thus a new genre of this historic group portrait comes into being.

Dronov and Taratynov have played a game of chess. Whatever the final outcome, the game itself is impressive and beautiful, although not conducted with standard rules and regulations. In these terms the game has been played and is a success.

Sergey Orlov


Copyright © 2005-2009 NIGHTWATCH 3D. All rights reserved.   GS WEB DESIGN