Before becoming famous, Pablo Picasso did not always have money for art supplies, like other struggling artists, he painted on existing canvases to create new works, thus hiding previous images.
One of those paintings, hidden under another for more than a century, has been given new life thanks to AI.
It is a painting of a nude woman, nicknamed The Lonesome Crouching Nude. In 2010, X-rays revealed that it was hidden under Picasso’s 1903 oil painting. The food of the blind, considered one of the most important works of the expressionist Blue Period of the artist. During that time, he painted bleak monochromatic works in shades of blue and teal, with occasional reflections of warm hues such as rust or gold.
Picasso depicted the squatting nude woman in the characteristic shades of the blue period, as evidenced by a full-size, full-color recreation that reproduces the painting down to brushstrokes in 3D. It is on display until Sunday at the opening. Deep AI art fair from the London-based Morf Gallery, which describes itself as a futuristic online gallery displaying limited-edition artwork.
Researchers at University College London recreated the painting using an original algorithm that studied dozens of Picasso paintings and trained in the Spanish artist’s style.
“It’s quite creepy to see the brush strokes, the color and the way the lights are reflected in the work,” said George Cann, one of the two UCL Ph.D. researchers who brought the 20th century piece to life with modern tools. “It is a beautiful piece.”
It was probably also important to the artist. The crouching woman appears in the background of another famous piece from Picasso’s blue period, La Vie (Life).
“The fact that the woman inside The Lonesome Crouching Nude is also inside La Vie and some of Picasso’s sketches suggests that Picasso may have had an affinity for this woman,” Cann said in a statement.
Cann and his UCL PhD partner Anthony Bourached have created a system for reproducing art that has been painted. Tools include X-ray and / or infrared images to reveal hidden work; a neural network that can reproduce the work after studying the artist’s cache; an elevation map for elevation modeling; and a 3D printer to print a textured part. Cann and Bourached call for their art reconstruction initiative Oxia Palus, and they have applied it to works that include another hidden Picasso, La Femme Perdueas well as a lost Modigliani.
“I think Picasso actively welcomed such forensics,” said Bourached, “as he himself said: ‘I just painted the images that appeared before my eyes. It is up to other people to find the hidden meanings.’
The Lonesome Crouching Nude is not the first hidden Picasso Blue Period painting to be revealed. In 2014,below another work from the blue period, The Blue Room, depicting a woman bathing.