The Tsarskoye Selo Museum temporarily houses five great works from the the Paragone series by the sculptor Alexander Taratynov, which comprise his unique project of Paintings In 3D Version.
Visitors to the Exhibition of Court Carriages at the Duty Stables pavilion are greeted by Ivan Kramskoi and his Unknown Woman (see below).
Rembrandt’s Nightwatch (above) and Bruegel’s The Blind Leading the Blind (below) have gained a third dimension and – for a year – found shelter by the Neo-Gothic walls of the White Tower, amidst the recently restored 19th-century architectural complex in the Alexander Park.
Also there, a fairy-tale like Gate Ruin sees a loving couple holding hands, forgetful of everything but themselves – the romantic Duke Federico of Urbino and his Wife, Battista Sforza, that came down from the eponymous diptych by Piero della Francesca (above); and Albrecht Dürer’s The Knight, death and the devil (below) that carry on their endless frightening ride.
The unrivalled sights and landscapes of the park bring unique experience into the spectator’s perception of the old masters’ originals and their three-dimensional versions sculpted by the talent of Alexander Taratynov as the result of his concentrated immersion in the creative process of the great predecessors.
For the sculptor, transfiguring painterly chef d’oeuvres into his own artistic medium is a practical application of the paragone, the comparison between the two forms of art – painting and sculpture – that instigated a centuries-long ‘which is superior’ debate since Leonardo da Vinci’s Treatise on Painting.
In his Paragone series, Alexander Taratynov not only adds the third dimension to pictures but automatically sets a fourth one, that of light, changing over time. Whereas light, while increasing intensity or changing position, does not essentially change our perception of a painting, it can totally transform the effect of a sculpture. Seeing the sculpture at different times of day or night and in different seasons is fascinating in itself, but it also helps us get a better understanding of the old master’s use of chiaroscuro.
Alexander Taratynov’s art provides new insights into the spatial compositions of the famous canvases (which is especially remarkable in his 22-figure version of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch created together with Mikhail Dronov). He allows the spectator to realize the fairytale of literally and physically stepping into the picture and becoming part of it. That greatly increases our comprehension of the painting itself, and changes our perception of it for ever.