Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Picasso hidden behind another Picasso

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Just to take a quick break from our extensive election coverage, I'd like to direct your attention to something really cool over at the Times:

Picasso painted "Woman Ironing" when he was in his 20s. And like so many struggling young artists he often reused old canvases. He first began painting a portrait of a man with a mustache; abandoned it and several years later turned the canvas upside down and painted the image of a skeletal woman ironing over it. The ghost of the man underneath was first detected with an infrared camera in 1989. "Woman Ironing" was recently cleaned and restored by the Guggenheim Museum and is now on display as part of the exhibition, "Picasso Black and White."

Click on the link above. The Times has an interactive feature that allows you to use your cursor to "erase" the "Woman Ironing" painting and reveal the unfinished portrait underneath. (It's upside-down, but there's a button to rotate it.)

You can even see where the two paintings match up, presumably because Picasso was using some of the portrait below as a guide for the one he painted over it. For example, the top of the man's head matches up with a cloth next to bowl just below the iron. And the dark space between the woman's right arm and torso is part of the man's vest.

As to the identify of the man in the painted-over portrait, it's not clear who it is. Perhaps a self-portrait, perhaps someone else. The Times offers a few possibilities.

Really, really interesting. For more, you can read the full Times article here.


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