With their immaculate replicas of everything from Tutankhamuns tomb to Italian architecture, this Madrid company is bringing ancient civilisations to life
The curator at the National Gallery could not contain her wonder. Calling me over to the replica of the Borgherini Chapel that has been installed as part of the gallerys Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition, she pointed out a surreal detail. Not only has this reproduction of a piece of Renaissance architecture got hyperrealistic reproductions of the frescoes, marble decor and a half-domed alcove it even has a modern plug socket sunk into the plaster.
That immaculate eye for detail is typical of the work of Factum Arte, a Madrid-based studio whose combination of digital analysis with assiduous craft is transforming the way we see art. I have been watching their work develop for nearly a decade. I am now convinced it is the most important thing happening in 21st-century art because it can quite literally save civilisation.
The new kind of high-fidelity 3D reproduction being pioneered by Factum Arte is going to abolish the difference between past and present and make distance no obstacle to seeing any masterpiece. We are entering an age when museums can this is no hyperbole have their own perfect replicas of the Sistine Chapel, Titians Assumption in the Frari church from Venice, or Mantegnas Camera degli Sposi from Mantua.