The Museo del Prado in Madrid recently dismantled the #1 rule of all art galleries around the world: Do Not Touch. Usually, security guards protect the prestigious paintings from masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Francisco Goya, and El Greco. But for this exhibition, touching is encouranged.
Using a technique called Didu, volume and texture were added to timeless art pieces. Six three-dimentional works were featured for the visually-impaired to finally be able to “see” the works of art, accompanied by text written in braille.
The exhibition's text reads: "Developed in collaboration with professionals in the sector of visual impairment, this project allows for the reality of the painting to be perceived in order to mentally recreate it as a whole and thus provide an emotional perception of the work. Non-sighted visitors will be able to obtain a heightened degree of artistic-aesthetic-creative enjoyment in order to explain, discuss and analyze these works in the Prado."
"The Gentleman with His Hand on His Chest" by El Greco is examined by a visually-impaired woman.
The process is described by the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum:
“This remarkable new technique, developed by the graphic arts organization Estudios Durero in Bilbao, endows flat images with textures and relief contours up to five millimeters thick. A photograph of the image in high resolution is given the most suitable textures and volumes as a guide for a blind person’s hand. Small, apparently insignificant details may suddenly become vital for an understanding of the composition or theme of a particular painting. It takes about forty hours working on an image to define the right volumes and textures, which are then printed using a special ink. Next, in a process lasting around twelve hours, a chemical procedure is applied to give volume to features that in principle are flat. The real image with the original colours is then printed onto the contour in a “hand-friendly” size of 80 x 120 cm.
In essence, what the process does is to give images a three-dimensional quality. The painting is reproduced in relief so the textures and volume of the reproductions can be explored by touch. At the same time, users listen to an audioguide in Basque, Spanish or English specifically developed to direct their “touch interpretation” of the painting. Finally, to give people with no visual problems an idea of the nature of this activity, masks are provided so anyone interested can experience the potential of touch.”
A close-up view of "The Gentleman with His Hand on His Chest" by El Greco.
A copy of "The Parasol" by Goya.
A copy of "Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan" by Diego Velazquez.
A copy of "Still Life with Artichokes, Flowers and Glass Vessels" By Juan van der Hamen.
A copy of the "Mona Lisa" by Da Vinci.
Touching the Prado will be open until June 28.
Credit: The Washington Post