ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
In Amsterdam, a new Rembrandt unveiled yesterday has the tech world buzzing.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
That's right, the tech world, not the art world so much.
SHAPIRO: That's because the new Rembrandt is not an actual Rembrandt, but a 3-D printer creation.
CORNISH: Of course, the man, Rembrandt van Rijn, has been dead for almost 450 years. The ad firm J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam used a computer program to analyze 346 official works by the artist. Bas Korsten is the director of the project.
BAS KORSTEN: A computer learned how to re-create a new Rembrandt right eye, and we did that for all facial features. And after that, we assembled those facial features using the geometrical dimensions that Rembrandt used to use in his own work.
CORNISH: The program came up with a portrait of a middle-aged bearded man, just like one of the portraits that made Rembrandt famous.
SHAPIRO: And it looks like an actual Rembrandt, right down to the texture of the brushstrokes, which the 3-D printer re-created.
CORNISH: But Korsten will be the first to tell you it's not legit.
KORSTEN: I wish it was that good, and it isn't. I think the expert eye sees that this isn't a real Rembrandt. And that's also got to do with the state of technology that we're in, the amount of time that we had. I mean, every extra month would have been a better painting.
SHAPIRO: Even a better painting will never be the same as one by the actual artist. But Korsten says the program, which started as just a PR stunt for a client, could be a boon for the art of restoring lost masterpieces.
KORSTEN: Because you can imagine that if a piece of painting is lost, if it's burned or - and you're left with, for instance, only 20 percent of a painting, then you could, with this technique, maybe re-create the other 80 percent based on the 20 percent that is left.
SHAPIRO: In the meantime, the Rembrandt 2.0 will be on display in a place to be determined for tech geeks, art lovers and everyone else by this summer.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.