Technology has uncovered the complete and mysterious image of a mustached man underneath Picasso's "The Blue Room."
Art fans, rejoice!
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Pablo Picasso's famous canvas painting "The Blue Room" has an old-school Easter egg hidden. Underneath the "The Blue Room," painted during his blue phase, there lies an unidentified mustached man. Curators are certain it's not a self-portrait but remain otherwise lost on the inspiration.
Bustie’s Caitlin Mahon offers a lot more insight into the topic in “Pablo Picasso Painted 'The Blue Room' Over A Mystery Man With A Moustache.”
Artists often gesso over painted canvases, or simply paint over without erasing the other image, when inspiration strikes.
While modern canvases can be purchased cheaply, Picasso's lifetime was quite different. Machine produced canvases weren't on sale at the local art store on the weekend. That meant using what was available when a vision of beauty struck.
Behrends Frank told the Associated Press the artist "could not afford to acquire new canvasses every time he had an idea" and the artist was forced to work "sometimes on cardboard" due to prohibitive cost.
Any artist can relate to the price of create art. Paints and textures still aren't terribly cheap now. An easy assumption would be the idea of reusing a canvas if it meant money for more colors to use—especially as the father of the Cubist art movement.
However "The Blue Room" and the hidden agenda has been a mystery since 1954. Curators noticed that the brush strokes didn’t match but little could be accomplished in depth at the time.
Attempts in the 1990s lead to the discovery of the man but technology field needed to catch up for the true image. Imaging technology was still limited, so the first really good tech image came in 2008.
Collectively, the Phillips Collection, the Winteruther Museum in Delware, Cornell University, and the National Gallery of Art used all the tech available to create a clearer image and to verify it is in fact Picasso’s work over the past five years.
Patricia Fowler, conservator at the Phillps Collection and woman in charge of piecing together the most complete image, sums up the mystery pretty well: “Well, who is it?"
Director Dorothy Kosinski agrees. “Our audiences are hungry for this. It’s kind of detective work.” She continues, saying that the lack of identity empowers “them to be part of a piecing together of a puzzle.” That’s quite an honor for art fans.
The untitled work was completed in the very early 1900s—just before his blue phase while in Paris—probably around 1901. Current best guess is art dealer Ambrose Villard, the man who hosted Picasso’s first art show, but the evidence is simply lacking.
So who is it?
No one knows just yet but curators, artists, and fans are looking forward to solving the mystery.