How Old Is That African Mask?

A few years ago, I added a Near Infra-red (NIR) spectrometer to the small arsenal of tools in our conservation studio. NIR can be used for identifying pigments and binders, and it works by comparing unknown samples to known examples in a library of spectra. Through trial and error, I discovered that NIR has great […]

John Singer Sargent: A Study for Porta della Carta of the Doge’s Palace.

John Singer Sargent was born to expatriate American parents in Florence in 1856. Always in search of culture, his family traveled often throughout Europe, always finding their way back to Italy, the perceived epicenter of all things culturally significant. Even after establishing residency in England in 1886, Sargent returned to Italy numerous times, including annual […]

Rare Gainsborough Study Discovered at Woodshed’s Conservation Studio

Routine examination of a painting rarely reveals surprises, but one portrait of a beautiful woman led to a cross-Atlantic adventure for oil painting conservator Bruce Wood.  Infra-red photography revealed a complex and energetic drawing hidden beneath the surface of the paint. The painting was initially identified as a copy of the most famous painting in […]

Discovered: Clues To Picasso’s Painting Method

Last month, Woodshed Art Auctions was consigned a portrait painting of a woman, signed Picasso and dated 1939.  While examining its condition, a few startling things were discovered. Visual inspection revealed that the painting looked like others from the mid-20th century: Dry paint, an even layer of light grime and dust both front and back, […]

Hilma af Klint: Mystic Abstractionist

Born in Stockholm in 1862, Hilma af Klint was unknowingly one of the earliest abstract painters. Aside from being an artist, Klint was a practicing mystic, holding seances and channeling ancient spirits. Her occultist beliefs, particularly those of theosophy, formed the crux of her work. Her goal was to gain a spiritual unity by reconciling […]

ARSHILE GORKY – Armenian-American Visionary

Arshile Gorky (1904-1948), was a talented Armenian born American painter who is regarded as the connection between American Abstract Expressionist movement and the European Surrealist themes in painting.  His mature sense of spontaneity was decades ahead of his time and influenced artists that followed in his footsteps, including Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, […]

Robert Indiana’s Legacy of LOVE

Prominent American artist Robert Indiana, best known for his iconic 1960’s LOVE series, died on May 19, 2018 in his home on Vinalhaven Island in Maine – he was 89 years old. Indiana’s adaptation of LOVE, the L & O stacked on top of V & E with the O tilting slightly to the right, […]

The Stressed Soutine

Chaim Soutine was a French-Russian painter born in 1893 and raised in a small Jewish settlement near Minsk, Belarus. From a young age he expressed a strong interest in drawing. He was often faced with opposition from his mostly Orthodox community due to Talmudic proscriptions regarding images. At age 16 Soutine set off to study […]

Philip Guston: Visionary Stumblebum?

  Philip Guston was born in Montreal, Canada and moved with his family to America (Los Angeles) when he was 6. He went to the Manual Arts High School with Jackson Pollock (they both were expelled) and received a scholarship to Otis Art Institute, which he attended briefly. In the 30’s he painted murals for […]

Jackson Pollock: Drip Discovery

“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” Jackson Pollock was an influential American painter and the leading force behind the abstract expressionist movement. He transformed the art world when he introduced his first drip paintings in 1947. His work brought together elements of Cubism, Surrealism and Impressionism, and with this method he […]