Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Secret painting found beneath Picasso's early masterpiece

A portrait of a mystery bow-tied man beneath Picasso's The Blue Room painting has been discovered with infrared imagery. Scientists have long suspected the canvas's surface might be hiding something and now wonder if it is the artist’s own earlier work.
An unknown man with bearded face resting on his hand with three rings on his fingers, wearing a jacket and a bow-tie was discovered under Pablo Picasso's The Blue Room masterpiece. Dated 1901, the painting was created in Paris, while Picasso was at the start of his distinctive blue period of melancholy subjects. 

The under-portrait might be the artist's own earlier work. 

"When he had an idea, you know, he just had to get it down and realize it," curator Susan Behrends Frank told the AP, revealing Picasso had hurriedly painted over another complete picture. "He could not afford to acquire new canvases every time he had an idea that he wanted to pursue. He worked sometimes on cardboard because canvas was so much more expensive." 

Conservators long suspected there might be something under the surface of The Blue Room, judging by the way it was painted. Brushstrokes on the piece clearly do not match the composition that depicts a woman bathing in Picasso's studio. The odd brush work was noted by a conservator back in 1954, but it was not until the 1990s that an x-ray of the painting first revealed a fuzzy image of something under the picture.

Still image from AP video: detail of Picasso's The Blue Room
Still image from AP video: detail of Picasso's The Blue Room

Over the past five years, experts from the Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, Cornell University and Delaware's Winterthur Museum have developed a clearer image of the underneath mysterious picture using a special technical analysis. 

The finding has fueled new research of the man's identity. Experts have ruled out the possibility of a self-portrait, and are now looking for answers who this man might be and why Picasso painted him. 

The Blue Room has been part of the Phillips Collection museum in Washington since 1927. For now the painting is on tour in South Korea until early 2015.

Still image from AP video: technical analysis allows 'dig deeper' into a painting
Still image from AP video: technical analysis allows 'dig deeper' into a painting

The revelation of the man's portrait beneath the painting is not the first finding in Picasso's works. Hidden pictures have been found under some of the artist's other creations, including a portrait of a moustached man beneath the painting Woman Ironing, at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. 

It's not just Pablo Picasso who saved on canvases, drawing over his previous works. Art historians have long known that Vincent van Gogh painted over many of his canvases. By using conventional x-ray technology, scientists were able to reveal the portrait of a woman hidden beneath van Gogh's 1887 Patch of Grass. 

The same method helped investigate "a confusing area of greater density" in one of Rembrandt's portraits, Old Man in Military Costume of 1630. In the 1980s conservators discovered that there was another figure hidden beneath.

Number of disabled surging in NZ – survey

A quarter of New Zealand is suffering disabilities on account of the country’s aging population. The figure came from the New Zealand Disability Survey
Reuters / Nir Elias

released on Tuesday by Statistics New Zealand. The figure had shot up from 20 percent in 2001.

 “This group has a higher likelihood of being disabled than younger adults or children,” said Statistics NZ labor market and household statistics manager Diane Ramsay.

 Ramsay suggested that the aging population of New Zealand was responsible for the net increase in disabilities. In 2002, some 12 percent of the population was over the age of 65, while 14.3 percent had passed that age in 2013. 59 percent of the disabled were over the age of 65, while 21 percent were under 65 and 11 percent were children under 15. Among children, the most pervasive causes of disability were those which had existed from birth. A learning disability affected 52% of disabled children. The survey also recognized that “Māori people were more likely to be disabled than non-Māori.” Additionally, the rate varied from region to region. Auckland reported a lower-than-average rate – 19 percent. “Two in 10 people in the Auckland region were limited in their daily lives by long-term impairment, compared with 3 in 10 people living in the Taranaki and Northland regions,” Ramsay said.