In 1957, when Pablo Picasso was in his seventh decade, he mused that x-ray technology might one day reveal a lost work underneath one of his early paintings. Today, that prediction became reality—although the technology involved goes far beyond x-rays.
Using hyper-modern tools to peer into one of his Blue Period paintings, researchers have not only shown a hidden piece of art history in stunning new detail, they have revealed a striking amount of insight into Picasso’s creative process.
The multi-pronged investigation focused on “La Miséreuse accroupie,” or “Crouching Woman,” painted in 1902 and currently owned by the Art Gallery of Ontario. It shows that the innovative modernist was inspired by the dominant lines of an underlying landscape painted by an unknown artist.
The analysis also exposes several incremental changes to the posture of the woman depicted in the painting—many of which Picasso ultimately abandoned. The team revealed the results of their analysis today at the 2018 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas.
“We often look at an image as if it was meant to be that way from the beginning,” says co-author Marc Walton, a research professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University. “But with these analytical images, we can get into the mind of the artist and better understand the creative process.”
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SOURCE: National Geographic