"The Census at Bethlehem" in 3D

Scenic interpretation of the masterpiece "The Census at Bethlehem" from Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Brueghel in 3D

Scenic interprétation by Martina Singer

The "Census of Bethlehem" was created in 1566 and is one of the most famous paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. The Munich artist Martina Singer has transformed the winter picture into a three-dimensional scenic installation. The depiction shows everyday life in a snow-covered village at sunset. In front of the tavern is a big crowd, because here the villagers pay their taxes and register. In the surroundings, people of all ages are represented in various occupations. In front of the inn a pig is being slaughtered, wagons are loaded and unloaded, bags and baskets are towed, barrels and carts are pulled over ice and snow. In the foreground, Joseph and Maria, riding a donkey, approach us in search of a hostel. The people in their busy lives ignore the couple and have no idea of the salvation brought into the world by these two. The artist's endeavour to reproduce as faithfully as possible, does not aim at a photorealistic copy, but primarily at the expression of the figures and their relationships to each other. Nevertheless, the closeness to the original impresses in its colourfulness, the proportions and the topographical details. If one gets involved with the enchanting world of miniatures, the figures begin to lead a life of their own that goes far beyond the painting in terms of complexity. A true masterpiece which, after having been shown in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, is now being shown for the first time in Belgium.

How did this project come about?

Martina Singer briefly explains why she chose this work and what her motivations were: various paths have led to this project.

About 10 years ago I visited the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Vienna has some very well-known paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, including Saul's suicide. I was tremendously impressed by the artistic quality of these paintings. There the love for Pieter Bruegel's work arose.

Years later I started to deal artistically with smallest figures from the railway need. I staged landscapes, draped the figures, including scenes with fire and figurines and created photographs. One of these photos had an atmospheric resemblance to Hieronymus Bosch.

Then I had a first idea to rebuild an old painting. With Bosch I did not find what I was looking for, but with Bruegel I discovered the painting "Census of Bethlehem". I liked extraordinarily well the depth of the picture and how the figures are placed in the room, and thus I began to rebuild the picture 3-dimensionally. Bruegel's painting, despite its apparent everydayness, has something very mysterious, uninterpretable, at least from today's perspective.

Another element of my vita is theatre acting and dance or, in this context, the theme of the scenery, the performance. Especially in this picture by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, I experience this theme very intensively, life as a backdrop for something bigger, it contains the origin of the story of God. In the course of the occupation with this great work I was deeply fascinated about the abundance of knowledge and experiences which became possible for me. I found a possibility to travel into the past of politics, culture, religion which was tremendously informative and also helped my understanding of today. In the Bruegel painting many people move across the ice, a kind of never-ending moivng and searching.

For what however? Perhaps for God and finally in search of their own destiny. These are contemporary themes, search for meaning, flight, expulsion, asylum and the question of one's own destiny.

Through this work I also found the arch into the present time. Martina Singer Munich

The work of art can currently be admired at ArsKRIPPANA.

Opening hours: Daily from 10 to 18 o'clock. Closed on Mondays.