AI & X‑Rays Recover Lost Artworks Underneath Paintings by Picasso & Modigliani

You see above a paint­ing by Amedeo Modigliani, a por­trait of the artist’s lover Beat­rice Hast­ings, unseen by the pub­lic until its redis­cov­ery just this year. Or at any rate, some see that: in anoth­er sense, the image is a new or almost-new artis­tic cre­ation, based on X‑rays of Modiglian­i’s Por­trait of a GirlUnder­neath the paint that makes up that cel­e­brat­ed work lie traces enough to estab­lish the pres­ence of a dif­fer­ent, ear­li­er one beneath. But only now, after the employ­ment of neur­al net­works fed with enough of the artist’s acknowl­edged work to rec­og­nize and repli­cate his sig­na­ture style, do we have a sense of what it could have looked like.

“Antho­ny Bourached and George Cann, both PhD can­di­dates, are head­ing the ‘Neo­Mas­ters’ project through a com­pa­ny called Oxia Palus,” writes The Guardian’s Dalya Alberge. “They have ambi­tious plans to redis­cov­er fur­ther hid­den paint­ings on can­vas­es that were reused by artists, who were per­haps too impov­er­ished to buy sup­plies or dis­sat­is­fied with ini­tial com­po­si­tions.”

Modigliani was cer­tain­ly impe­cu­nious enough to have done so more than once, and his rela­tion­ship with Hast­ings — a long affair that was volatile even by the stan­dards of the ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry Parisian bohemia they inhab­it­ed — did pro­vide mate­r­i­al for oth­er por­traits.

Spe­cial­ists, respec­tive­ly, in neu­ro­science and the sur­face of Mars (their com­pa­ny’s name refers to a region of that plan­et), Bourached and Cann have proven enter­pris­ing in this art-ori­ent­ed endeav­or. “A 3D-print­ed phys­i­cal ren­der­ing of their cre­ation, com­plete with com­put­er-sim­u­lat­ed ‘brush­strokes’ and tex­ture, will soon go on dis­play at London’s Leben­son Gallery as part of the duo’s ‘Neo­Mas­ters’ project,” writes Nora McGreevy at Ear­li­er this year, McGreevy also cov­ered Oxia Palus’ dig­i­tal­ly assist­ed recov­ery of a Barcelona land­scape pos­si­bly paint­ed by the Span­ish poet, play­wright, and artist San­ti­a­go Rusiñol — before it was paint­ed over by Pablo Picas­so.

This dis­cov­ery actu­al­ly goes back to 1992, when con­ser­va­tors first deter­mined the exis­tence of anoth­er image beneath Picas­so’s lit­tle-known La Mis­éreuse accroupie, or The Crouch­ing Beg­gar. “Researchers sus­pect that Picas­so used the moun­tains in Rusiñol’s land­scape to shape the con­tours of his female subject’s back,” writes McGreevy. “A 2018 X‑ray of that less­er-known work by the Art Gallery of Toron­to pro­vid­ed Oxia Palus what they need­ed to start work on their A.I.-assisted recre­ation. Not only did Bourached and Cann 3D print 100 phys­i­cal copies of the final prod­uct, they linked each one to a unique non-fun­gi­ble token (NFT), the new kind of dig­i­tal arti­fact that has become some­thing of a craze in the art world — sure­ly an unimag­in­able after­life for these images Modigliani and Picas­so must have assumed they’d oblit­er­at­ed for good.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Orig­i­nal Por­trait of the Mona Lisa Found Beneath the Paint Lay­ers of da Vinci’s Mas­ter­piece

Sci­en­tists Cre­ate a New Rem­brandt Paint­ing, Using a 3D Print­er & Data Analy­sis of Rembrandt’s Body of Work

Short Film Takes You Inside the Recov­ery of Andy Warhol’s Lost Com­put­er Art

A 10 Bil­lion Pix­el Scan of Vermeer’s Mas­ter­piece Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring: Explore It Online

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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