The thing about “great” art is that it’s almost as hard to acquire as it is to understand.
While interpreting art should probably be left to the experts, Holst is a digital art touch-up and reproduction startup that helps you get your hands on renowned paintings at affordable prices. Of course, they don’t sell you the original paintings. Instead, Holst prints digital copies of paintings after putting them through a digital restoration process.
According to the company,
“The significant amount of time that has passed from the original creation of many paintings affects their color and brightness. This often makes it difficult to understand what a painting looked like in the moment it was created according to the artist’s vision. Holst’s goal is to use digital technology to repair the defects of age and alter an image’s brightness, contrast, and colors to better reflect the artist’s original creation.”
Restoring original paintings is a rather long and arduous process, since renewing the physical aspects of the canvas and paint without adulterating the artist’s vision is a hard balance to achieve. It’s often controversial and sometimes leads to egregious and hilarious blunders as in the case of the octogenarian who took it upon herself to restore a 19th-century fresco. For these reasons, manual restoration can be quite pricey.
Modern image processing technology eliminates both the time and risk associated with art restoration, which is why Holst uses Photoshop in the LAB color space (as opposed to say RGB or CMYK) rather than brushes and a color card to restore paintings. The service doesn’t presume to be able to restore paintings with high degrees of historical accuracy; instead, they retouch paintings digitally to ensure that it looks good at the business end of a printer.
Holst’s current catalog features art by many of history’s most illustrious painters, including da Vinci, van Gogh, Picaso, and Michelangelo. Pigment-based inks are used for the prints and buyers can choose whether to use a paper or canvas substrate. Varnish and texture gel may be applied over the the prints to make them look more like actual paintings and protect them from the elements.
The pricing of the printed paintings vary depending on the size, material (paper/canvas), and whether you’d like varnish or texture gel to be used. A 29″ × 23″ canvas print of the ‘Bathers at La Grenouillère’ by Monet with a texture gel coating costs $100, so the replicas are certainly a lot more economical than the originals. Shipping to anywhere in the USA is free.
The team at Holst is currently working on completing retouching processes on the famous pieces that constitute the core of their catalogue. From there, they will move on to paintings featured at the Rijksmuseum, MET, and LACMA. Whether you deem their reproductions cheap imitations or the sincerest form of flattery to the great artists of history, you have to admit having an affordable, high-quality, canvas-backed wall-sized print of ‘The Creation of Adam’ by Michelangelo in your house is a proposition that’s hard to resist.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.