RIT’s University Gallery Showcases Digitally Reproduced Iconic Images

Doug Manchee’s creative interpretations on 20 of the most famous paintings in history

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Doug Manchee’s digital reproduction of Pierre-August Renoir’s “The Boating Party” (1880-1881).

Chances are you’ve never seen all these iconic reproductions together in one gallery space. There’s Andy Warhol’s Marilyn, Edvard Munch’s Scream, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

And hanging majestically from the ceiling—as if it were housed in the Sistine Chapel—is The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo’s paneled masterpiece that serves as an imposing focal point.

The University Gallery at Rochester Institute of Technology presents its newest exhibition, “20 Works of Art in the Age of Digital Replication,” by Doug Manchee, now through March 2. An artist reception and gallery talk will be held 5–7 p.m. Feb. 23.

Manchee digitally recreated 20 of the most reproduced, iconic paintings in history. “I chose idealized images like Georgia O’Keefe’s Black Iris III—the kind people look for and purchase in poster stores,” explains Manchee, associate professor of photography and chair of the advertising program in RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences.

“I took 20 scans of the same painting—all from different books or publications and in various sizes—and layered the images on top of one another. I ended up with a new interpretation where everything is blurred but still highly recognizable.”

Manchee left one in-focus detail that viewers with a sharp eye for the overall composition might notice.

“I chose a defining element in the painting that would always remain sharp and the same when I superimposed—and the farther you get away from that point, the more blurred the image becomes. In Michelangelo’s fresco for instance, it’s the finger of God touching Adam’s hand.”

After blending all 20 scans of each reproduction, Manchee reformatted the final image to match the exact dimensions of the original painting.

“But some of the final images were larger in dimension than the maximum width of 44 inches used in our lab’s ink jet printer,” he says. “So the end result is two, or sometimes three, panels hinged together. Technology sometimes has limitations, but you can still get the idea of the relationship between the original and the reproduction.”

University Gallery is located in James E. Booth Hall—adjacent to RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies, home to the entire archive of graphic and product designs by renowned international designers Massimo and Lella Vignelli. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For information, contact University Gallery Manager Jessica Erickson at 585-475-2404 or jleugs@rit.edu.

RIT In the News
Brighton-Pittsford Post — Feb. 1, 2012
RIT's University Gallery presents ‘20 Works of Art in the Age of Digital Replication’ exhibit