The Dancing Faun of Pompeii in Power and Pathos

The lines are drawn, the orders are in,
The Dance Commander’s ready to sin.
Radio message from HQ;
Dance Commander, we love you.

—Electric Six, Dance Commander

The New York Times calls the J. Paul Getty Museum’s current exhibit of 40 ancient bronzes, Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World “one of the best exhibitions of sculpture you may ever see.”

For the Los Angeles leg of its tour, the exhibit featured the life-size Seated Boxer. But when it came time for the exhibit to move to Washington, D.C., the Vatican recalled the Boxer to Rome, so it could be displayed in conjunction with 2016 Jubilee festivities.

The Getty curators filled the Boxer’s vacancy with the Dancing Faun of Pompeii, which was loaned from the Naples Archaeological Museum.

Judging from press accounts, the Faun has stolen the show. That should come as no surprise, though.

The Dancing Faun was discovered on October 26, 1830 in the ruins of the most opulent Roman home discovered at Pompeii: the House of the Faun, as it later became known, which was also home to the Alexander Mosaic. The Faun is thought to be either a 2nd-century Greek original, or a very high-quality Roman copy.

Upon its discovery, as Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny write in Taste and the Antique, “The fame of this small bronze was instantaneous … its first cataloger described it as the finest bronze to have been excavated at Pompeii and compared it to the Barberini Faun.

Its small size made it ideal for reproduction and for decorating gardens and drawing rooms. Victorians raved about the Faun, no doubt with assurances like that from the Naples museum, which advised that “the Faun was ecstatic and not in the intoxicated condition of various other bronze Fauns from Herculaneum and Pompeii…”

Dancing Faun of Pompeii plaster cast, photo by CosmoWenmanThe timeless, enthusiastic response to the Faun in the Power and Pathos exhibit is great. And the public’s impulse to collect a copy for themselves can live on too: in 2013 I laser scanned a 19th-century plaster cast of the Faun at the Skulpturhalle Basel museum.

I’ve used that 3D data to make 3D printed gold, silver, bronze, brass, and steel pendants, which you can buy here:

More importantly, though, I’ve made the data freely available to anyone, with no restrictions on its use. Click here to download the 3D-printable files:

Here’s a sampling of what people have done with the data in the year since I shared it:

Click here for an orientable, zoomable 3D viewer of the Faun data:


3D printed pendants of the Dancing Faun of Pompeii:

20151229 DancingFaun_3D scan by CosmoWenman

Click to open 3D viewer of Dancing Faun 3D model:



1944 US Army Intelligence Report by Boris Krass

My grandfather, Boris Krass, was born in Russia, and while still very young spent 5 or 6 years years as a refugee in Germany with other White Russian families before coming to the US.

Fluent in English, Russian, and German, he was an intelligence officer in the US Army during WWII. In 1944 he interrogated hundreds of Russian forced-labor prisoners that the Allies had liberated from the Nazis.

This is a report he made to the Army and OSS about their situation:…/1994-11-25-intelli…


“Bombings and black markets afford the only source of extra food.”

“If an Osterbeiter is … caught walking with a German girl, he is hanged the next day.”

“By far the great majority of Russians have nothing but hate for the Nazis”

“Incidents of sabotage, killing, plots, and secret organizations have been cited to this interrogator.”

“Several Ost workers have reported that they had been carefully approached by Germans, self-styled Anti-Nazis, who have invited them to listen to Allied broadcasts in the secrecy of their homes.”

“many of the Russian girls working as domestic servants in private homes listen to the radio in the absence of their employers. The subject matter of these broadcasts is then widely disseminated among other Russian laborers.”

Still-captive Russian prisoners want guidance on:

– Should we resist evacuations, and hide to await the Americans?

– How can we fight the Nazis at the critical moment? Sabotage? Passive resistance? Arms? Open revolt?

– How should we act during an air-raid?

“It is beyond the scope of this report to deal with the delicate question of why the Soviet Union has left much to be desired in sending propaganda to its citizens in Germany. It is presumed to be a matter of politics.”


Tate Britain Unbound

My (rejected) project proposal for the Tate IK Prize 2015, submitted November 7, 2014:

Tate Britain Unbound

by Cosmo Wenman

Q: Tell us who you are and what creative digital projects you have done in the past (150 words max).

As a freelance designer, consultant, and lifelong informal art student, for the last several years I’ve been experimenting with the 3D capture, 3D printing, remixing, and copyright-free digital publication of antiquities and fine art.

I have published online several scans of works in the Louvre and British Museum.

My recently completed project Through A Scanner, Skulpturhalle produced and freely shared 3D surveys of 19th-century plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures from the Skulpturhalle, Basel museum in Switzerland.

That project published for the very first time high-quality 3D surveys of Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, and the Medusa Rondanini, among several others. These surveys have been downloaded 70,000 times in the few months since their publication, and have been 3D printed by art lovers all over the world. This bleeding edge project received international press coverage from a diverse collection of pop culture, tech, art, and conservation-oriented media outlets.

Q: How would you use digital technology, platforms or tools, to “connect the world to art”, creating a new way for the public to discover and enjoy British art from Tate’s collection? (150 words max).

Ecstasy by Eric Gill in bronze by Cosmo Wenman_close crop

Tate Britain Unbound will digitize and publish online, copyright-free, archival-quality 3D surveys and 3D-print-ready models of iconic, public domain sculptural artwork from Tate Britain. 3D visualizations of the works will be added to


The public can Tweet their remixed surveys to be 3D printed and displayed at Tate Britain, all broadcast via live webcams.

Select remixes will be 3D printed large-scale and displayed. Example: Eric Gill’s Ecstasy, digitized, 3D printed, cast in bronze

Tate Britain Unbound will allow Tate Britain to experiment with projecting its collection outward,  turning it into a living engine of cultural creation, to be endlessly adapted, multiplied, and remixed in unpredictable venues and media. We’ll set it loose to come alive in a vibrant, lively, and anarchic popular culture beyond the museum’s walls.

Tate Britain Unbound’s worldwide engagement with the public would begin immediately. Its effects will unfold over hundreds of years.

Remixes by Cosmo Wenman of Works at Tate Britain

Portraits of a Child I & II

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Portraits of a Child I & II, scanned, remixed, 3D printed, and finished by Cosmo Wenman.

I scanned two privately held, traditional busts of children and remixed them with two powerful, otherworldy, and futuristic sculptures I admire: Constantin Brancusi’s 1910 Sleeping Muse at the Met, and Jacob Epstein’s 1915 Portrait of Iris Beerbohm Tree at Tate Britain.

Once the busts of the children were scanned, I digitally edited them to incorporate features and styling from the century-old museum pieces, which I modeled by eye from photo references. I 3D printed the results in plastic and finished them in bright and patinated brass.

I’m not sure what it says about my own perception, or about the current (stale?) state of science fiction imagery, but the futuristic iconography that most resonates with me is from futures conceived long ago. William Gibson giving up on predicting the future comes to mind, and fits into the picture somehow. I also think of Disneyland restyling Tomorrowland, moving away from a 1960s brute-force engineered future, and toward hundred-year-old Jules Vernesque fantasy imagery.

In any case, the surreal, Promethean spread of creative power via easy 3D scanning and printing hints at very cool, unpredictable things to come.


Life-size 3D Printed Portrait

My client asked for a life-sized 3D printed portrait of a colleague. Because the portrait was to be a surprise gift, there was no opportunity to scan the subject. The piece had to be modeled from photos of him culled from the web.

I proposed a bust, roughly from the shoulders up, with classical allusions, but I was vague about the details beyond that. The final design references the Artemision Bronze, Leighton’s An Athlete Wrestling with a Python at Tate Britain, and a few pop culture sources.

I took a risk and bet that they’d like something other than a standard chairman-of-the-board type treatment. And what’s the point of having rock & roll hair if you aren’t going to do the whole heroic barbarian-warrior-champion-god thing when you have your life-size 3D printed portrait done?

This is the result.

This kind of remixing is just one small reason the world’s back catalog of public domain sculptural artwork should be digitized and published, freely, and without restriction. More on that front soon…

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Eric Gill, ‘Ecstasy’, 1910-1

Ecstasy by Eric Gill in bronze by Cosmo Wenman_close crop_reduced


I captured Gill’s 1910 limestone Ecstasy at Tate Britain in August 2012, and have cast it in bright bronze, 21 inches tall.

See 3D Scanning, 3D Printing, Bronze Casting, and the Art of the Living Dead for its story.

Download the 3D printable model here:




From Tate Modern:

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

Shark, glass, silicone, plastic, 1.5% Red Bull solution, 30 x 15 x 20 cm. This original work is offered for sale directly from the artist’s studio, and will be delivered to the buyer by the artist himself (pending helipad proximity). Serious inquiries only, please.

Download the 3D printable model here: