Dec.29, 2013

In the 19th Century, important works of sculptural art were reproduced in plaster. Copy of classical sculptures in plaster were sold worldwide to museums, universities and art lovers, especially the 2nd century BC Venus de Milo.

But the plaster cast tradition died out in the early 1900s. Many significant cast collections were broken up, with some pieces lost or even deliberately destroyed. And today, only a few sizeable collections of plaster casts are left in existence. 3D printing to the rescue once again thanks to California artist Cosmo Wenman, who has just published the first ever printable 3D surveys of the two famous examples of Hellenic art: The Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace.

3D printing artist Cosmo Wenman believes 3D printing has the same potential to change the world of art. For several years Wenman has been 3D scanning artworks in museums and using those scans to print life-size reproductions. And he has also been sharing his 3D printable files online so that anyone can 3D print their own copies too.

In June 2013 Wenman launched 'Through a Scanner, Skulpturhalle' Kickstarter campaign, which will allow Wenman to 3D scan a selection of plaster casts of important, archetypal sculptures at the Skulpturhalle Basel museum and create 3D printable files of each. Unfortunately his campaign failed.

Nevertheless, Wenman went on with his project and his goal was to broaden access to sculptural masterworks to everyone, to "share the scans and 3D printable files into the public domain, copyright-free, so that anyone, anywhere, can download, alter, adapt, or 3D print them for themselves." says Wenman.

In September 2013, with the museum's permission and the financial support of Autodesk's Reality Capture division, Wenman spent a week working in the Skulpturhalle, taking 3D surveys of his choice of casts. He took hundreds of carefully staged photos of the sculptures and used Autodesk's ReCap Photo photogrammetry software to process them into high-quality 3D models. After publishing the printable 3D surveys of the two works, the designs have been downloaded close to 14,000 times in 10 days.

"I hope this new, 3D captured, digitally published Winged Victory and all its 3D printed iterations might someday be seen as symbols of a new new age, and a different kind of futurism." says Wenman.

Wenman has published 3D model of Venus de Milo here and files of Winged Victory of Samothrace here on Thingiverse. The largest, single-part Venus model Wenman has printed so far is 20in tall, in PLA. "I've printed these pieces several times with RepG for file prep and a Replicator1, with zero infill, 3 walls thick, at .2mm layer height." notes Wenman. The blue 3D prints shown in the photos below were made with white PLA and finished in patinated copper using Alternate Reality Patinas.

Watch the video below shows a comparison of people's response to the original Venus de Milo in the Louvre to their response to Wenman's 3D captured, 3D printed copy at the 2013 Paris 3D Printshow.


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