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The Unvarnished Truth: Exploring the Material History of Paintings

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The Unvarnished Truth: Exploring the Material History of Paintings brings together discoveries made by an international team of nearly 30 researchers―scholars of applied radiation sciences, anthropology, art history, biomedical engineering, as well as conservators, conservation scientists, forensic art historians, and curators―who worked together to examine nine historical paintings from the collections of the McMaster Museum of Art including works by Vincent Van Gogh, Alexander Rodchenko and Peter Paul Rubens’ workshop. The exhibition brings together these works of European art painted between c. 1520 and 1919 with accompanying research findings. This informative presentation highlights the importance of technical art history, showcasing the lifespans of artworks as material cultural objects.

McMaster University Research Associate Brandi Lee MacDonald conceived The Unvarnished Truth as a series of conversations about the potential for non-destructive techniques to analyze works of art. It evolved to become a multidisciplinary, collaborative study investigating painting technique, materials, attribution, connoisseurship and stability. Drawing on a range of expertise, the exhibition explores the scientific processes and tools used to gather art historical information, along with the interpretive results of those endeavours. The results of these examinations have produced a series of unique narratives not only about the paintings but also about the research process itself.

McMaster has also created an exciting interactive visual tool that allows visitors to view the nine historical paintings in the travelling exhibition in extraordinary detail through high resolution images. This tool allows comparison of each layer through visible light, X-radiography, infrared reflectography and ultraviolet light.

The Unvarnished Truth: Exploring the Material History of Paintings brings together discoveries made by an international team of nearly 30 researchers―scholars of applied radiation sciences, anthropology, art history, biomedical engineering, as well as conservators, conservation scientists, forensic art historians, and curators―who worked together to examine nine historical paintings from the collections of the McMaster Museum of Art including works by Vincent Van Gogh, Alexander Rodchenko and Peter Paul Rubens’ workshop. The exhibition brings together these works of European art painted between c. 1520 and 1919 with accompanying research findings. This informative presentation highlights the importance of technical art history, showcasing the lifespans of artworks as material cultural objects.

McMaster University Research Associate Brandi Lee MacDonald conceived The Unvarnished Truth as a series of conversations about the potential for non-destructive techniques to analyze works of art. It evolved to become a multidisciplinary, collaborative study investigating painting technique, materials, attribution, connoisseurship and stability. Drawing on a range of expertise, the exhibition explores the scientific processes and tools used to gather art historical information, along with the interpretive results of those endeavours. The results of these examinations have produced a series of unique narratives not only about the paintings but also about the research process itself.

McMaster has also created an exciting interactive visual tool that allows visitors to view the nine historical paintings in the travelling exhibition in extraordinary detail through high resolution images. This tool allows comparison of each layer through visible light, X-radiography, infrared reflectography and ultraviolet light.

The Unvarnished Truth: Exploring the Material History of Paintings is organized and circulated by the McMaster Museum of Art. The MMA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Museums Assistance Program, Canadian Heritage and the Ontario Arts Council. 

Sponsors
Artist patrons
  • James Wolfli
  • Annika Nordhagen
Organized by
  • McMaster Museum of Art

Hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday: 11 am-5 pm
Wednesday: 11 am-5 pm
Thursday: 11 am-8 pm
Friday: 11 am-5 pm
Saturday: 11 am-5 pm
Sunday: 11 am-5 pm

Admission

Every Thursday 5-8 pm - FREE

AGA members
FREE
Youth 0-17
FREE
Alberta students 18+
FREE
Out-of-province students
$8.50
General admission
$12.50
Seniors 65+
$8.50

Location

2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 2C1

780.425.5379
info@youraga.ca

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