Una mostra impossibile – Leonardo, Raphael, Caravaggio: next stop the Holo-Deck

A friend has just come back from Naples, where he visited Una Mostra Imposibile, ‘An impossible exhibition’ in the monastery of San Domenico Maggiore. Sadly the exhibition ended yesterday, so it would be impossibile now to see it, but the concept is brilliant.


Works by Caravaggio at Una Mostra Impossibile Image (c) DaringToDo.com

The organisers, director Renato Parascandolo and art director Ferdinando Bologna, assembled 117 masterpieces by Leonardo, Raphael and Caravaggio, and displayed them in digital reproduction at 1:1 scale. They created galleries of paintings that could never be seen together in real life, and visitors could experience the artists’ work as a whole, life size, for the first time ever. The impact was stunning. My friend was particularly struck by the recurrence of the same models, particularly the idealised Leonardo face that must surely be a self-portrait.

The exhibition website features a link to a teaser video, but it is a very chaste tease indeed, and you get a better sense of the whole show from this news video.

There is something of Peter Greenaway in this, or the scene in Danny Boyle’s ‘Trance’ where James MacEvoy imagines Le Corbusier’s Church at Roncamp filled with all the world’s great stolen paintings. Like all brilliant ideas, it’s surprising this hasn’t been done before. You could take visitors back to the RA in 1780, the collection of King Charles I or the Salon des Refusés for first time in centuries.

The images in Mostra Impossibile were basically printed. The next step must be projecting them. This will be the way in the home of the future – for a few spotlight-projectors and a blank wall, people will be able to have any picture in the world. And change it again at the flick of a switch.

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