Paintings by Caravaggio, Vermeer, & Other Great Masters Come to Life in a New Animated Video

With his short video “Beauty,” the Italian director Rino Stefano Tagliafierro takes “a series of well selected images from the tradition of pictorial beauty” and uses the “fire of digital invention” to animate sentiments lost on immobile canvasses. In the video above, you will see works by Caravaggio, Vermeer, Rubens and others put into digital motion. A complete list of the paintings included in the video can be found here. Plus there’s a tumblr with animated GIFs of the paintings.  Find more information, including a manifesto for the video (in Italian), on Tagliafierro’s web site. An English translation of the manifesto appears below the jump.

via Digg

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Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;
Over Beauty, there has always hung the cloud of destiny and all-devouring time.
Beauty has been invoked, re-figured and described since antiquity as a fleeting moment of happiness and the inexhaustible fullness of life, doomed from the start to a redemptive yet tragic end.
In this interpretation by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro, this beauty is brought back to the expressive force of gestures that he springs from the immobility of canvas, animating a sentiment lost to the fixedness masterpieces.
Its as though these images which the history of art has consigned to us as frozen movement can today come back to life thanks to the fire of digital invention.
A series of well selected images from the tradition of pictorial beauty are appropriated, (from the renaissance to the symbolism of the late 1800s, through Mannerism, Pastoralism, Romanticism and Neo-classicism) with the intention of retracing the sentiment beneath the veil of appearance.
An inspiration that returns to us the sense of one fallen, and the existential brevity that the author interprets as tragic dignity, with an unenchanted eye able to capture the profoundest sense of the image.
Beauty in this interpretation is the silent companion of Life , inexorably leading from the smile of the baby, through erotic ecstasies to the grimaces of pain that close a cycle destined to repeat ad infinitum.
They are, from the inception of a romantic sunrise in which big black birds fly to the final sunset beyond gothic ruins that complete the piece, a work of fleeting time.

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Comments (15)
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  • Rachel says:

    This would have been a lot better if the filmmaker hadn’t focused so much on being sensationalist and macabre. Nice concept but creepy result.

  • Lou says:

    It might better be called “reflections on life and death.” There’s not much beautiful about the final few minutes.

    But the concept and process are brilliant, creative, original and haunting – my personal distaste for the bloody iconography of western religions notwithstanding.

  • Wolfgang Ksoll says:

    Great video! Great painting artists and a great composition! Well done.
    E mille grazie ;-)

  • ik says:

    Turning the sound off really helped me enjoy it more.

  • Canopus says:

    I think therefore I exist.
    Common thoughts therefore they exist.

  • Lamp Shade says:

    Interesting concept that will no doubt bring a new audience to some of the works on display. I revelled in the sensationalism and macabre but I am a Caravaggio disciple so that is no surprise. However I would like to see how this media would work with Turner or Constable… Yawn!

  • Arron says:

    Overall a very cool idea and done well. The animated gif stuff I’m betting will be wildfire on tumblr.

  • alexandre says:

    Why criticizing so much? I loved it. Live masterpieces.. Be jealous, fools. Those who say ´´it would be better if..´´could not have the eyes to do half of this presentation. Congratulations.

  • juddarwin writer on redbubble says:

    video doesn’t/never work/works

    prob will be exciting/nice
    but already like look of art as is
    not all who stand and comment
    sometimes in front of it
    also with ‘this is’ ‘atead of showing
    but interpretations CAN be better, but
    video doesn’t work as said still with been waiting for sense thank you!

  • Roberto Rodriguez HEREJE. says:

    Cuando una obra plástica (visual estática, que ni el op art aguataría) se anima, se desanima literalmente hablando, pues el artista o pintor en este caso, siembra justamente el total en un flash que incluso contiene el movimiento. Esto es tristemente apropiado para consumidores light.


  • Angela says:

    This is a masterpiece. The most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a while.

  • Bahram Abedi says:

    Beautiful! There was a news section in Aljazeera English about it. I am glad I could google it and find the link to Beauty! Thanks. I think its wonderful. I’m sharing in on my facebook.

  • brindisiparadiso says:

    Download BEAUTY soundtrack:

  • Valentina says:

    Is Tagliafierro’s “Beauty” video inspired by an R.E.M. one?

    Tagliafierro’s idea of animating paintings in the “Beauty” video ( ) isn’t very original, since in 1991 James Herbert realized the amazing video of “Low” ( ) for R.E.M.. Both videos are very similar, not only for same idea of moving paintings, but also for their style. In fact, if in the “Low” video the main painting is Elizabeth Jane Gardner’s “La Confidence”, in the Tagliafierro’s one the same painter appears as the author of “Too Imprudent” and portrayed in the “Portrait of Miss Elizabeth Gardner” by her husband/teacher William Adolphe Bouguereau. Then Bouguereau himself is the most shown artist (together with Caravaggio) in “Beauty”, giving a stylistic mark to the whole video. It’s curious how Caravaggio’s pictures are represented in the “Losing My Religion” video ( ), since both R.E.M. songs belong to the same album and video collection (despite “Low” remains unknown for never being published as a single).
    In my opinion, since in 1991 there weren’t actual technologies, the “Low” video appears even more amazing, innovative and noteworthy.

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