“Three Dancing Nymphs” at the Frank Lloyd Wright Hollyhock House, Hollywood

“Three Dancing Nymphs” at the Frank Lloyd Wright Hollyhock House, Hollywood

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My replica of the 1st-century A.D. marble relief from Roman Libya, Three Dancing Nymphs, is shown above on the first day of its installation at the Frank Lloyd Wright Hollyhock House in Hollywood, California.

The Hollyhock House was Wright’s first project in Los Angeles; it is now a museum and a candidate for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original marble relief was the most important piece in the Hollyhock House’s original owner’s art collection, and was the last major feature missing from the house’s recent restoration back to its original 1920s decor—in the photo below, the photograph in the upper right corner from the 1920s is one of the few references showing where the original was located. Now that it is on permanent display in the loggia, my replica will be the first thing to greet museum visitors.

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The Archetypes Burst In — my talk at REAL2016

This is my presentation from March 8, 2016, at the REAL2016 conference on 3D scanning.

My talk was about how people have made use of the scans I’ve shared, and on museums that aren’t sharing their 3D data.

Related, here’s my investigation of The New York Times story on the fake Nefertiti 3D scan heist: The Nefertiti 3D Scan Heist Is A Hoax. (It’s not only related, I published it the morning I gave this talk.)

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The Nefertiti 3D Scan Heist Is A Hoax

Update March 15, 2016: After this investigation was reported by multiple news outlets, including Smithsonian Magazine, Popular Science, InstapunditThe Daily Dot, Kotaku, Digital Trends, Fusion,  Gizmodo, Hyperallergic, MentalflossBoingBoing, and ARTFIXdaily, on March 10, 2016 The New York Times published a follow-up story: Nefertiti 3-D Scanning Project in Germany Raises Doubts. -CW


 

The New York Times’ March 1, 2016 story “Swiping a Priceless Antiquity … With a Scanner and a 3-D Printer” by Charly Wilder tells how two German artists made a surreptitious, unauthorized 3D scan of the iconic bust of Nefertiti in the Neues Museum in Berlin.

The artists, Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, make a case for repatriating artifacts to their native countries and use Nefertiti as their focal point. They also point out that the Neues Museum has made its own high-quality 3D scan of the bust, and that the museum should share that data with the public. As a protest, they released their own scan to the public, and the quality of their scan is extraordinary.

The story has received a great deal of attention and Al-badri and Nelles have earned much praise for their efforts to digitally repatriate important cultural artifacts. Unfortunately, there are serious problems with their story and The Times’ account.

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The Dancing Faun of Pompeii in Power and Pathos

The lines are drawn, the orders are in,
The Dance Commander’s ready to sin.
Radio message from HQ;
Dance Commander, we love you.

—Electric Six, Dance Commander

The New York Times calls the J. Paul Getty Museum’s current exhibit of 40 ancient bronzes, Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World “one of the best exhibitions of sculpture you may ever see.”

For the Los Angeles leg of its tour, the exhibit featured the life-size Seated Boxer. But when it came time for the exhibit to move to Washington, D.C., the Vatican recalled the Boxer to Rome, so it could be displayed in conjunction with 2016 Jubilee festivities.

The Getty curators filled the Boxer’s vacancy with the Dancing Faun of Pompeii, which was loaned from the Naples Archaeological Museum.

Judging from press accounts, the Faun has stolen the show. That should come as no surprise, though.

The Dancing Faun was discovered on October 26, 1830 in the ruins of the most opulent Roman home discovered at Pompeii: the House of the Faun, as it later became known, which was also home to the Alexander Mosaic. The Faun is thought to be either a 2nd-century Greek original, or a very high-quality Roman copy.

Upon its discovery, as Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny write in Taste and the Antique, “The fame of this small bronze was instantaneous … its first cataloger described it as the finest bronze to have been excavated at Pompeii and compared it to the Barberini Faun.

Its small size made it ideal for reproduction and for decorating gardens and drawing rooms. Victorians raved about the Faun, no doubt with assurances like that from the Naples museum, which advised that “the Faun was ecstatic and not in the intoxicated condition of various other bronze Fauns from Herculaneum and Pompeii…”

Dancing Faun of Pompeii plaster cast, photo by CosmoWenmanThe timeless, enthusiastic response to the Faun in the Power and Pathos exhibit is great. And the public’s impulse to collect a copy for themselves can live on too: in 2013 I laser scanned a 19th-century plaster cast of the Faun at the Skulpturhalle Basel museum.

I’ve used that 3D data to make 3D printed gold, silver, bronze, brass, and steel pendants, which you can buy here: http://etsy.me/1MLIzsY

More importantly, though, I’ve made the data freely available to anyone, with no restrictions on its use. Click here to download the 3D-printable files: thingiverse.com/thing:196048

Here’s a sampling of what people have done with the data in the year since I shared it: http://bit.ly/1OqY6y5

Click here for an orientable, zoomable 3D viewer of the Faun data: https://skfb.ly/JFBL

 

3D printed pendants of the Dancing Faun of Pompeii: http://etsy.me/1MLIzsY

20151229 DancingFaun_3D scan by CosmoWenman

Click to open 3D viewer of Dancing Faun 3D model: https://skfb.ly/JFBL

 

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The Grasshopper Lies Heavy

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Last year for Veterans Day I wrote about my Russian-born grandfather, Boris Krass, a US Army intelligence officer during WWII. In 1944 he interviewed hundreds of Russian slave-laborers whom the Allies had recently liberated from Nazi labor camps. He found hate for the Nazis, hangings, black markets, sabotage, murders, Russian prisoners all but abandoned by the USSR, and calculating Germans hedging their bets by passing information to their captives. You can read his secret report to the Army and OSS here.

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The Getty Kouros Published

20150501 The Getty Kouros by Cosmo Wenman

“One of those two Zippo lighters was in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s pocket when he was assassinated. And one wasn’t. One has historicity, a hell of a lot of it. As much as any object ever had. And one has nothing. Can you feel it? … You can’t. You can’t tell which is which. There’s no ‘mystical plasmic presence,’ no ‘aura’ around it.” —Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

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