Empty Old Masters

April 1 2021

Image of Empty Old Masters

Picture: Octobrium

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The website designboom.com have featured works by the contemporary artist Octobrium who has been digitally manipulating old masters to create 'paintings from an alternative position in time'. Essentially, the artist carefully samples images and removes the figures from scenes to reveal the settings in their most pure form. The picture above is after Jan Gossaert's The Adoration of the Kings in the National Gallery, London.

As the website explains:

octobrium invites the audience to consider the moment when the actors have departed and to reflect upon the landscapes and structures that form the backdrop to the composition. in the absence of representations of living characters that had previously inhabited the scene, viewers are compelled to relate to the picture from solely their own perspective and thought; and the picture then assumes a different meaning. a meaning informed by our memory of the original painting.


A very neat trick I suppose, which does remind us how marvellous and interesting the architectural settings of such paintings can be. Regular readers might remember artist José Manuel Ballester undertaking the same effect with a Canaletto last June. Turn this into an NFT, and they might just start realising more money at auction than real old master paintings (perish the thought).

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