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Friday, June 1 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
(Imaging Technology) A Study of Two Picasso Blue Period paintings in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, La Miséreuse accroupie (1902) and La Soupe (1903)

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In anticipation of a multi-disciplinary exhibition devoted to a reassessment of Picasso's Blue Period (with the Phillips Collection, Washington, in 2020) the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) engaged Senior Imaging Scientist John Delaney and the special expertise of scientists at Northwestern University and the Art Institute of Chicago (NU-ACCESS) to study two important Picasso Blue Period paintings:  La Miséreuse accroupie (1902) and La Soupe (1902-3).  The research has provided valuable insights into the artist's process with a particular focus on his materials, the relationship of underpainting to the visible composition, the chronology of the pentimenti and the relationship of all forms to extant drawings and other paintings of the period. Diffuse hyperspectral infrared reflectography was used to expand on the results of traditional infrared reflectography and x-radiography of both paintings. Fibre optics reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) was also collected from numerous sites to help with pigment identification. Hyperspectral image cubes consisting of ~200 images (spectral range 967 to 1680 nm) were generated. Significant changes in composition were revealed in both paintings. One of the major findings was that La Miséreuse accroupie is painted over another composition estimated to be by an artist and friend of Picasso, in Barcelona at the time. In addition, reflectance transformation imaging combined with photometric stereo provided detailed information about the brush strokes as well as the application of colour, and served to clarify complexity in the surface texture. New findings were further explored with point and 2D macro-X-Ray Fluorescence analyses. Elemental maps revealed more subtle changes in the composition of the underlying paint layers. It also helped selecting sites from which cross-sections were sampled, to potentially elucidate the chronology of the image changes. A complex stratigraphy was frequently revealed. Micro-sampling analyses allowed further differentiation of the artist's palette in the development of the painting and will be discussed within the context of current Blue Period Research. In depth studies of Pablo Picasso’s painting materials and techniques, though rare in the past, have seen a resurgence in the past ten years. This study is exemplary because of the high level of integration of curatorial, conservation and conservation science research. Curatorial input on visual sources for the artist, in the form of related drawings and artworks has accompanied the analytical campaign hand in hand, influencing, directing and inspiring interpretation of the scientific imaging. Furthermore, two different groups of scientific experts have been involved, thus pushing the limit of interdisciplinary research beyond the boundaries of a single discipline or institution in a fully integrated, not consultancy-based framework. This study greatly enhances our knowledge of the AGO Picasso Blue Period paintings and their relationship to other paintings and drawings of the period by drawing on a global network of experts and increasing body of knowledge.

Speakers
avatar for Sandra Webster Cook

Sandra Webster Cook

Conservator of Paintings, Historical and Modern, Art Gallery of Ontario
Sandra Webster-Cook became an employee of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in 1987. She is currently responsible for the conservation of the historical and modern paintings in the collection of the AGO. Her work on the Canadian Historical collection included research on the paintings... Read More →

Co-Authors
avatar for Kenneth Brummel

Kenneth Brummel

Assistant Curator of Modern Art, Art Gallery of Ontario
Kenneth Brummel has been the Art Gallery of Ontario’s assistant curator of modern art since August 2014. A specialist in late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century international modernism, he has undertaken different curatorial roles at the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Museum of Fine... Read More →
avatar for Francesca Casadio

Francesca Casadio

Andrew W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist and Co-director NU-ACCESS, The Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University
Francesca Casadio joined the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003 to establish and direct a state of the art conservation science laboratory. In January 2018, she will assume the post of Executive Director of Conservation and Science in the same institution. Dr. Casadio has also established... Read More →
avatar for John Delaney

John Delaney

Senior Imaging Scientist, National Gallery of Art
John K. Delaney, Ph.D. is the Senior Imaging Scientist at the National Gallery of Art, where his research focuses on the development and application of remote sensing imaging methods for the study of works of art.
avatar for Gianluca Pastorelli

Gianluca Pastorelli

Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern/ARTIC Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
avatar for Emeline Pouyet

Emeline Pouyet

Post doctoral fellow, Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago
Emeline Pouyet is a post-doctoral fellow at the NU-ACCESS center (Chicago, U.S.A). She received her M.S. degree in Archaeometry in 2010 and completed her Ph.D. studies in 2014 at the ID21 beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France). Her activities focused... Read More →
avatar for Marc Sebastian Walton

Marc Sebastian Walton

Co-Director, Research Professor, Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
Marc Walton joined the Northwestern University / Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts in 2013 as its inaugural Senior Scientist and as a Research Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. In January of 2018, he was appointed... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (86)