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Sotheby’s Brings Surrealist Paintings to Life in VR

The reimagined paintings bring you face to face with Magritte’s gently growling lion and soaring past Dali’s horse and cart.

Auction house Sotheby’s is letting you step inside some of the works on sale during their Surrealist Art Evening sale exhibition at New Bond Street in London. The four auction highlight pieces include the illusory perceptions of a Spanish plain in Salvador Dalí’s 1930s masterpiece, Moment de transition, the enigmatic dreamscape of Paul Delvaux’s Jeunes filles au bord de l’eau, the machine-like creatures in André Masson’s Hôtel d’automates, and the juxtaposition of a powerful lion and a fragile egg in René Magritte’s Le Repas de Noces.

Sotheby’s teamed up with FGreat Studio to create the 360° immersive experience, letting visitors to the gallery dive in with an Oculus Rift headset. The Rift installation at Sotheby’s gallery is part of a larger digital strategy to lure new, tech-savvy buyers in who can appreciate the works in a reimagined way. You can also watch the full 360° video experience on YouTube below.

In order to create the 360° experience, each 2D painting needed to be remodeled, creating a 3D model of every single element and using existing textures of objects to extrapolate non-visible elements, building an entire 3D scene that you can then take a tour through.

sothebys-vr-art-surrealist2“Differently from 2D, in a 3D scenario the person can look all around, explore all angles, so we have to understand the work of the artist, the scene that was painted and recreate it in a very respectful way to enhance the viewer’s experience,” stated Conrado Galves, Executive Creative Director of FGreat Studio. “For this reason, we try to avoid creating new elements that are not present in the painting.”

sothebys-vr-art-surrealistThe project took three full-time professionals around five weeks – from briefing to final delivery — to bring this to life. But the work may just pay off. The four key works are hoping to fetch some hefty prices, with Salvador Dalí’s Moment de Transition painting estimated at £6.8 million. René Magritte’s Le Repas de noces is estimated at up to £1.2m and the two other experiences are looking good too, with André Masson’s Hotel des Automates, estimated at up to £2m, and Paul Delvaux’s Filles au bord de l’eau at up to £2.2m.

sothebys-vr-art-surrealist4When it comes to bringing art to life in VR, surrealism may just be one of our favorite movements to translate to the new medium. It becomes an entirely different relationship with the art and should introduce new visitors, many who’ve never experienced VR, to see their favorite artists in a different way that is sure to have a long-lasting impact.

Last year we saw the Dali Museum bring an early Salvador Dali painting to life in VR as well as terrifying Bosch oil paintings make their way to a Google Cardboard headset near you.

Visitors to the Surrealist Art Evening sale exhibition at New Bond Street can experience the VR installation until March 1, 2017.

Image Credit: Sotheby’s

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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