The Indianapolis Museum of Art is using science and technology not only to establish the authenticity of a number of artworks in its collection but also to try to determine the intention of the artists in creating the works. The museum’s ongoing exhibit “What Lies Beneath: Secrets Under the Surface of Paintings” is the venue for this undertaking, which is the second in the IMA’s CSI Conservation Science Indianapolis series.
In this exhibition, the museum picked three artworks with which to apply X-ray and infrared imaging to decipher clues hidden beneath the layers of paint used in the artworks. One of the paintings is “Washington’s Birthday,” the 1878 masterpiece by Charles Baugniet. Viewers, using an interactive touch screen, can see a different scene underneath the paint layers of the work.
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“Many people think of the arts and the sciences as two opposing worldviews, but the CSI series shows the rich interface between the two that has existed throughout history and continues to be relevant today,” said IMA’s senior conservation scientist Greg Smith.
“What Lies Beneath: Secrets Under the Surface of Paintings” is on until Aug. 6.