London Art Reviews

Magazine of art press and reviews from London

This exhibition uncovers the works of the Estorick Collection of London.

David Franchi – Monday, 14th December 2015.

Umberto Boccioni, Modern Idol, 1911 © Estorick Collection, London.“More than Meets the Eye” is a revealing exhibition, at the Estorick Collection, London.

The exhibition “More than Meets the Eye” presents the results of a study conducted by a group of specialist art historians, restorers and scientists on the most important works hold by the Estorick Collection of London.

This uncommon exhibition paves the way to a deeper understanding of the holdings of the Estorick Collection, London, including those by Giorgio de Chirico, Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini, Carlo Carrà and Ardengo Soffici.

The most advanced scientific analysis techniques have been used to study the artworks, unlocking new perceptions about the paintings of the

Umberto Boccioni, Modern Idol, 1911 © Estorick Collection, London.

Umberto Boccioni, Modern Idol, 1911 © Estorick Collection, London.

Estorick Collection. It has been found that works have layers of paint hidden beneath the surface, and also previously unidentified characteristics coming from the techniques used were discovered.

The exhibition “More than Meets the Eye” was an interesting visit and it gave the opportunity to approach those painting in a different way. It was also possible to have a deep view of the works by using big screens in the rooms. This multimedia approach was created using backlit X-ray plates and high resolution photographs which let visitors explore the paintings as if viewing them under a microscope.

This project brings together scientific investigations with new archival research. Therefore, some information before unnoticed has now been detected. The research team has been able to recreate the history of the conception, purchase and exhibition of a number of the masterworks of the Estorick Collection.

With a non-invasive methodology, the investigation was made using the latest imaging techniques as well as through spectroscopic analysis. The analytical methods employed have included multispectral high-resolution photography, large-format X-ray imaging, multispectral infrared reflectography and Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging (FLIM). A C-14 (carbon dating) investigation was also carried out in one case to ascertain the date of organic material.

The most important part of this study is the outcome. The findings include a painting depicting bathing women on the back of Soffici’s renowned Cubo-Futurist image Deconstruction of the Planes of a Lamp (1912-13), until now concealed by the complex framing system that has protected the work for decades. A great surprise is the finding of a total different work under Balla’s masterpiece The Hand of the Violinist (1912). Scans have revealed a view of Düsseldorf that forms part of a series of cityscapes made by the artist at that time, before identified only from photographic materials.

The Estorick Collection exhibition is the outcome of the project FUTURAHMA. From Futurism to Classicism (1910-1922): Painting Techniques, Art History and Material Analysis (, funded by the Italian Ministry for Universities and Research under the program Futuro in Ricerca 2012, dedicated to innovative projects promoted by young researchers. The participants were the University of Pisa, the CNR (National Research Centre) in Florence, Perugia and Milan, and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence.

Alongside the main exhibition “More than Meets the Eye”, the Estorick Collection brings to London the contemporary

Girotondo, La Isla, 2014 © Piero Pizzi Cannella, courtesy Estorick Collection.

Girotondo, La Isla, 2014 © Piero Pizzi Cannella, courtesy Estorick Collection.

Italian artist Piero Pizzi Cannella. Born in 1955, he is one of Italy’s leading living artists. Pizzi Cannella paints poetic, suggestive mixed media works and presents them in series with recurring forms. At the Estorick he is showing 20 paintings made between 2010 and 2015, which will intertwine a path through the masterpieces in the rooms of the permanent collection.

“More than Meets the Eye” and Piero Pizzi Cannella exhibitions are at the Estorick Collection, Canonbury, London, from 23rd September until 20th December 2015.

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