In 1934, artist Ivan Shadr created a sculpture of a nude girl proudly posing with an oar. The aptly named Girl with an Oar was deemed “too sexy for Stalin” although the artist himself was reportedly a favorite of the Soviet dictator. The eight-foot-tall statue was originally installed in Russia’s Gorky Park, surrounded by fountains and meant to be a symbol of the park and a tribute to athleticism and beauty. It was called too “erotic,” however, and was relocated to a park in Ukraine, where it was mysteriously lost, perhaps destroyed by vandals.
In 1936, Shadr created a revised version of the statue, which was also installed in Gorky Park, and while it was still criticized as vulgar, it remained standing until Moscow was bombed in 1941. Bizarrely, 1941 was also the year that everyone involved with the statues’ production died. Shadr himself died of an illness that year, and the models for the two statues, Vera Voloshin and Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, were both captured and killed by Nazis on the same day.
Shadr’s wife bronzed the plaster model of the original sculpture, which was kept in the archives of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. It was rediscovered in 2010 and recreated and reinstalled in Gorky Park in 2011. Now a new version of the second statue has been restored as well through 3D printing and made unique through some artistic graffiti.
The four-meter-tall 3D printed statue took a month to print in several individual parts, and was then assembled and decorated by Russian artist and calligrapher Pokras Lampas. Lampas covered the statue in quotes from modern Russian literature, giving it a modern, tattooed appearance.The restoration of Girl with an Oar shows once again that art is never truly lost, if a copy or blueprint exists of it somewhere. 3D printing can recreate a work of art down to the last detail, as though it was carved again from the artist’s own hands. The newest version of Girl with an Oar is not an exact replica, obviously, as the calligraphy decorating it is brand new. The calligraphy, however, beautifully brings together the words of modern Russian artists with a work first created during a dark time in the country’s history. Girl with an Oar may have been a triumphant-looking piece, but it was created and unveiled during a time of violence and war. Restoring it today, with words from modern literature, is a reminder that art endures, no matter what else may be happening.
Others have used 3D scanning and 3D printing to preserve and restore works of art and historical artifacts destroyed by currently-happening terror and war in the Middle East. The destruction in these places is overwhelming, as is the loss of life. Sadly, the lives lost in this violence cannot be restored, just as the lives of Voloshin, Kosmodemyanskaya and the millions of others killed by the Nazis cannot be brought back. Their art, however, can be restored, thanks to technology, and it can be seen as a tribute to their memory as well as a reminder of the perseverance of creativity.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Sources: Calvert Journal, Museum Studies Abroad]