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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vision To Visuals: Preserving Image Quality

Staying true to the originals through successive generations or reproduction

Laurance Rassin’s paintings being photographed for the book.

I’ve written a fair amount in this column about the rich experience of working with artists who donate their works for charities. We’re so frequently involved in such projects that we’ve become quite adept at navigating the maze of stakeholders who make these artists’ exhibitions possible, namely the sponsors, collectors, exhibitors and the artists. However, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when we get to work with someone whose artwork raises money for charity as well as qualifies for a world record. Laurance Rassin, an artist whose paintings have been likened to a “cross between Picasso, Matisse and Chagall,” created an exhibition whose proceeds go toward helping him become the first American artist to create art in space, as well as to support children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

Simply Blue, Rassin’s first solo exhibition, opened in May at the Condé Nast Towers in Times Square with the support of three unique organizations. The Durst Organization is the real estate group that runs impressive art programs in its New York buildings. Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc., is an award-winning travel industry leader and one of the largest privately held, women-owned and family-managed travel consulting firms in the U.S.; they’re also the Accredited Space Agent for Virgin Galactic. Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl is a nonprofit organization that rehabilitates children affected by the disaster.

We worked with Rassin to create a unique memento for his exhibition—a book of photographs of his paintings that were digitally captured, printed and bound by the Duggal team into a beautiful square piece intended as a gift for collectors. Rassin’s work is described as extremely original, full of color, imagination and energy, and his canvases have been called “the best combination of old and new school; the next wave of great contemporary expressionism.” Such glowing praise is fitting for this true renaissance artist who’s as comfortable with creating pop imagery as he is with painting like the old masters. His imagination soars across multiple genres, technologies and experiences that transcend the normal in every way, including wearable “art couture” on fashion runways. The works displayed in the exhibition span a decade of Rassin’s signature color-filled, large-scale impasto oil paintings, bronze sculptures, ceramics, tapestries and textiles, and reflects his love of the modern era, space travel and romance.

To authentically reproduce such a rich legacy of work onto a second-generation medium such as a book, the most important concern in an artist’s mind inevitably is the accuracy of color, texture and detail to match the original. So, Rassin first tested our ability to reproduce his works by bringing his paintings into our studio. He was satisfied with the results, however, it was inconvenient for him to transport all his works into our studio to be filmed. So we offered him a unique solution that we’ve only recently created to address this exact problem—in a unique collaboration with Broncolor and Hasselblad, we’ve created a portable fine-art photography-capture studio that our team can easily set up on-site in any gallery, studio or production house to capture extremely detailed and accurate reproduction-quality digital files.

The complexity and rich detail in Rassin’s paintings is stunning when viewed in the three dimensions, but translating these works into two-dimensional images while maintaining their richness was the challenge. The process of transferring the layers of brushstrokes from a canvas through a camera lens onto printed paper requires an extensive background in digital photography, color theory and lighting. Using a Broncolor four-light system on the larger paintings, and a two-light system for the smaller pieces, our team led by Karl Rudisill captured almost every single grain by matching the results in real time with the images on the laptop to the ones on the wall.


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