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
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.