Factum Arte, a Noah’s Ark for Art in an Endangered World

 

No character is possibly more charming—and, up to a point, trite—than the eccentric Englishman who embarks on extraordinary adventures. Adam Lowe is one such character, with a mission of a lifetime. Factum Arte, the company he runs from Madrid, “rematerializes” (Lowe dixit) objects of art. That purview includes anything from King Tut’s tomb to a Veronese. In less fancy terms, it makes reproductions. Their quality is so extraordinary that the level of detail escapes the finest critics’ eyes. Factum Arte made its name in 2007, with a replica of Paolo Verone’s “The Wedding at Cana,” which Napoleon took with him to the Louvre after pillaging the Serenissima. Nothing had taken the massive painting’s place until Lowe’s firm replaced it at the Venetian refectory ransacked by the French emperor. Lowe is putting the digital resources at the service of art. Many European cities are the reconstructed reincarnations of their bombed out former selves. Islamic militants have destroyed ancient works of art at Palmyra and Bamiyan. Any connoisseur would scoff at the notion of reconstructions taking the place of originals. But tell that to anyone who has been to the Great Wall of China, so many times built and rebuilt in the course of millennia, and ask them if they can spot the difference.

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