Meet Auguste François Willème, the Steampunk Genius of 3D Printing
|François Willème, The Sculptor's Brother, mechanically produced relief portrait, about 1859-1861. George Eastman House, Rochester. The relief is made from about 150 brass sheets secured with bolts|
LACMA's "City of Cinema: Paris 1850-1907," co-organized with the Musée d'Orsay, explores the origin story of motion pictures, a tale intertwined with the histories of painting, photography, and popular culture. It is no surprise the early French film shared the urbanity of Impressionist painting; nor that photography supplied the foundations of cinematography and special effects. More unexpected is the dialog between sculpture, photography, and the movies. At the nexus of these media was Auguste François Willème (1830-1905).
About 1860 Willème devised photosculpture, an attempt to bring the unmediated naturalism of a photograph to sculpture. His patented technique combined photography with the pointing machine, used by sculptors to reproduce 3D art. You could say that photosculpture was a steampunk attempt at 3D printing, using the available technology of the Second Empire.
|Auguste François Willème, Portrait of Celeste-Rose Beauregard, 1865. LACMA|
|Nadar, Self-Portraits in Twelve Poses: Study for a Photosculpture, 1861-1867. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris|
|Auguste Rodin, Pygmalion and Galatea, 1889. Musée Rodin, Paris|
|Renato Bertelli, Continuous Profile (Head of Mussolini), 1933|