Art Researchers Find Secrets in Picasso Paintings Using Technology

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. wrinkled / ˈrɪŋ.kəld / (adj) – folded in many places

    I cannot use a wrinkled paper to make a good drawing.

  2. assumption / əˈsʌmp·ʃən / (n) – a guess with no actual evidence

    I made the assumption that it was his painting because he signed it, but the signature turned out to be fake.

  3. mask out (something) / mæsk ɑʊt / (idiom) – to hide something

    He used thick, white paint to mask out the original painting in the canvas he used.

  4. broke / broʊk / (adj) – the state of not having money

    Even if you are broke, you can still pursue art by reusing canvas and buying cheap paint.

  5. sole / soʊl / (adj) – being the only one of a certain kind

    He is the sole creator of this painting that is why there is only one signature at the bottom of the artwork.


Read the text below.

Art researchers are using technology to uncover hidden layers in some of Pablo Picasso’s paintings.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC found a newsprint and another painting underneath Picasso’s “Mother and Child by the Sea.” Using hyperspectral imaging technique, researchers examined the way light behaves on materials like paint. Images beneath layers of paint can be detected through this technique.

The researchers found some text from a French newspaper, which Picasso supposedly read back in the day, on the canvas. The newsprint’s presence seemed to explain the wrinkled texture in some areas of the painting.

However, it remains unclear why Picasso used newsprint on the canvas. Some assumptions were that Picasso could be concealing his mistakes or masking out a different painting altogether.

Apart from the newsprint, another painting was also uncovered using hyperspectral imaging. The presence of this first painting has been known since 2005, but it was only recently that a clear picture has been produced: a woman seated beside an absinthe / ˈæbˌsɪnθ / bottle.

Researchers speculated that Picasso reused canvases because he was broke, so acquiring a new canvas every time he wanted to paint was not an option.

Picasso’s “Mother and Child by the Sea” is not the sole painting that art researchers have examined closely using technology. In February, they found two paintings underneath his “The Crouching Beggar” through x-ray techniques. The first was a landscape scene created by a different artist. Then, over the first painting was believed to be an earlier version of “The Crouching Beggar.”

Researchers believe that using technology on Picasso’s works can help people understand the artist’s personal style better.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Aside from what was mentioned in the article, how important is it to analyze old artworks?
• What other artworks would you like to have examined using new technology? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Does reusing a canvas or painting over another artwork decrease artistic value? Explain.
• Would painting over another artist’s work be acceptable today? Discuss.