Large geometric painting on wall in front of photography equipment

Black and white portrait of a women in hat

A painting of a violinist hand at the neck of the instrument

Images, above, from top: Gino Severini’s The Boulevard, being studied; Umberto Boccioni, Modern Idol, 1911; Giacomo Balla, Hand of the Violinist, 1912 © DACS 2015.

More than Meets the Eye
New Research on the Estorick Collection
23 September – 20 December 2015

This fascinating exhibition presents the findings of a group of specialist art historians, restorers and scientists who have examined key works from the Estorick’s permanent collection. Using the most up-to-date methods employed in the analysis of artworks, they have shed new light on the different techniques used by a number of painters, and in some cases have even revealed the presence of previously unknown images beneath, or on the back of, the Collection’s masterpieces.

This comprehensive campaign of non- invasive analysis has included multispectral high-resolution photography, large-format X-ray imaging and infrared reflectography. Such investigations have been combined with new archival research, enabling the team to reconstruct the history of works by artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini from their creation up to the present day.

Major discoveries include a painting depicting bathing women on the rear of Ardengo Soffici’s Cubo-Futurist Deconstruction of the Planes of a Lamp, hidden by the complex framing system that has protected the work for decades. One of the most significant revelations of the show is the discovery of an entirely different work underneath Giacomo Balla’s 1912 masterpiece The Hand of the Violinist. Until now its existence has only been known of from contemporary photographs.

Offering intriguing new perspectives on iconic images, this multi-media exhibition also presents fascinating insights into ‘the science of art’. The analysis has been undertaken in the context of the project FUTURAHMA. From Futurism to Classicism (1910-1922): Painting Techniques, Art History and Material Analysis, and has been carried out by the University of Pisa, the CNR (National Research Centre) in Florence, Perugia and Milan, and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence.

Black & white painting with a landscape background that includes a tall tower, with violinist hand at the neck of the instrument on the left-hand side

Giacomo Balla, Hand of the Violinist (detail), 1992.

Piero Pizzi Cannella

Continuing the series of ‘interventions’ by contemporary artists in response to the Collection, Piero Pizzi Cannella – one of Italy’s foremost living artists – will be juxtaposing a series of works against our permanent collection.

A map of a large island with two smaller islands on the right-hand side of the painting. Two broken outlines of circles that overlay each other sit just off centre.

Piero Pizzi Cannella, Girotondo la Isla.