Second Picasso painting found beneath work at Art Institute

The setting is almost duplicated in another Pablo Picasso drawing from the Swedish Gothenburg Museum, entitled “Nature Morte”, also from 1922.

The discovery, which the team of three at the Art Institute kept largely silent until June when they wrote in the research journal SN Applied Science, follows similar X-ray analyzes of Picasso works that have been made in other museums such as “The Blue Room” and “The Crouching” Were preserved were Frau ”, both painted around 1901 and 1902, who discovered hidden works that are buried under the main painting.

The discovery was not a complete surprise. The outline of the underlying painting is visible on the back of the canvas in normal light and can be seen in early black and white photos taken of the back of the painting after it was added to the museum’s collection in 1953, although it was partially hidden from Allison Langley , Conservator of the Art Institute.

Other high-tech research has focused on the artist’s underground brush styles in a kind of homework industry that has clustered around the interiors of Picasso’s canvases.

Of particular importance in the revelation “Still Life” is the style contrast between the two paintings. The pitcher and mug were drawn in a neoclassical style, while “Still Life” is itself a Cubist depiction of a guitar and a wine bottle.

Late in life, before he died in France in 1973 at the age of 91, Picasso had made no secret of his fondness for painting over old works and even encouraged art curators to do x-rays “because you can find things under it. ”

Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Art Institute, says of Picasso’s work: “While it’s relatively easy to see the creative leaps between images – from the Rose Age to analytical Cubism – Es is much more difficult to identify the moments of ingenuity that occur within a single composition. “

The use of X-rays in examining works of art dates back to the 1920s, and the Art Institute has had internal X-ray capabilities since the 1960s. But it was only with the introduction of digital image processing software and other computer-aided advances in recent times that scientists were able to reproduce hidden works of art like the one under “still life” more precisely.

“It is the combination of information from various examination techniques that gives us a comprehensive picture of how a painting has developed,” says Kim Muir, research curator for paintings at the museum, who, together with colleagues Langley and Ken Sutherland, wrote the paper “Still Life “wrote.

Langley, who is part of a larger 35-strong team of scientists, engineers and art historians, says the work “Still Life” is valuable to our museum colleagues and Picasso scholars on an international level. Discovering an underlying painting and a painting with a clear connection to a familiar drawing expands one’s knowledge of Picasso’s working practices and materials. It reveals a new facet of his thinking that was not considered before. “

The team is unlikely to be finished studying other Picasso masterpieces in the museum. It previously dug beneath the surface of “The Old Guitarist” painted in Barcelona in 1904 at the height of the artist’s Blue Period.

Studies have shown the ghostly image of a woman staring out over the artist’s neck. Infrared technology even identified a kneeling boy and two cows in the picture.

Of course, none of this is visible to casual visitors to the Art Institute. The new technology will bring all of these images into ever sharper relief. For now, the revelations of Picasso’s paintings in paintings go step by step.

Comments are closed.