Emeline Pouyet, Postdoctoral Fellow
Northwestern/Art Institute Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
WEDNESDAY, May 23, 2018
The Firehouse Grill, 2nd Floor
750 Chicago Ave., Evanston 60202
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. The multi-pronged investigation focused on Picasso’s Blue Period (1901–1904), so named for his monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green. Valued for their homogeneous compositions, unified by tone, the paintings of this period are by no means simple, but rather complicated and multi-layered constructs. “La Miséreuse accroupie,” or “Crouching Woman,” painted in 1902 and currently owned by the Art Gallery of Ontario is a striking example of such complexity.
Using hyper-modern tools to peer into the painting, 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. 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.
Come on out and hear more about how innovative technical studies are helping rediscover Picasso’s decision making and creative processes at this early and seminal part of his career.