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Evidence of Lost Da Vinci Fresco Behind Florentine Wall

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the they-know-the-chemical-composition-of-his-preferred-paint dept.

Technology 114

Lev13than writes "Art historians working in Florence's city hall claim to have found evidence of Leonardo da Vinci's lost Battle of Anghiari fresco. Painted in 1505, the fresco was covered over by a larger mural during mid-16th Century palace renovations. Historians have long speculated that the original work was protected behind a false wall. Attempts to reveal the truth have been complicated by the need to protect Vasari's masterpiece, Battle of Marciano, that now graces the room. By drilling small holes into previously-restored sections of Vasari's fresco, researchers used endoscopic cameras and probes to determine that a second wall does exist. They further claim that the hidden wall is adorned with pigments consistent with Leonardo's style. The research has set off a storm of controversy between those who want to find the lost work and others who believe that it is gone, and that further exploration risks destroying the existing artwork."

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114 comments

The whole thing is a scam ! (-1, Troll)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336313)

Drilling holes in the wall, extract some "black stuffs", and then proclaim that those "black stuffs" are "paint that was only used by Da Vinci"

Please !!

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336339)

Protip: Artists at the time mixed their own paints.

The more you know!

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (5, Interesting)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336377)

Protip: Artists at the time mixed their own paints.

The more you know!

My grandmother was with Thomas Hart Benton when he painted the Rape of Persephone. He mixed egg whites with his paint.

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336965)

>grandmother
>painted
>rape
>egg whites

The image you've given me is not the same as the image you intended to give me.

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (1, Funny)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338905)

Gives a whole new meaning to the idiom, "Teaching your grandmother to suck eggs."

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337739)

That's called tempera [wikipedia.org]. You can also use milk. [wikipedia.org]

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (0, Flamebait)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336617)

Protip: Artists at the time mixed their own paints.

The more you know!

You do not have to be a "pro" to know that

But that guy's scam is this --- he only tells the world that the "black stuffs" he uncovered from the drilling is "Da Vinci's paint" but there is no proof in what he says

1. Nobody knows whether the "black stuffs" that scam-artist got from the drilling is the same "black stuffs" he sent to lab testing

2. He claimed that he got "black stuffs" from the drilling, but there is no proof that he got any "black stuffs" at all --- it's all what he tells the world, no proof, no nothing

Damn scam-artist has the backing of the mayor - and he is destroying another ancient painting with his hole-drilling exercise

Re:Destruction (5, Informative)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337041)

If you read the article (I know, its /. and that is redundant), you would note that the only places in which they are drilling hole are locations where the original Vascari was damaged and they have done restoration work previously. So, no, they are not damaging the fresco in front, they are being quite careful to only work in locations which have already been damaged.

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (4, Funny)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336929)

Those filthy communists! They violated hue patents and stole paint revenue from big pigment! You wouldn't steal an ox-cart...

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (4, Funny)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336463)

It'll be good if Geraldo Rivera hosts the unearthing.

Re:The whole thing is a scam ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336967)

BAM! ITS A CHAIR!

Again?

This is a job for the TSA (4, Funny)

EnempE (709151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336391)

Those magic scanners can see anything through anything right ?

Re:This is a job for the TSA (4, Funny)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337069)

Sure, if the fresco contains genitals. Aren't TSA scanners highly calibrated to detect concealed genitals and not much else?

How is this news for nerds? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336409)

Seriously, will this affect the tech world in ANY way?

Fuck art and the pseudo-intellectuals who devote their wasted lives to it.

Re:How is this news for nerds? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336431)

Art is good, it keeps the pseudo-intellectuals out of any real subject. But yes how the fuck is this "news for nerds"?

Re:How is this news for nerds? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336537)

Seriously, will this affect the tech world in ANY way?

Fuck art and the pseudo-intellectuals who devote their wasted lives to it.

If you truly believe that art has no bearing, benefit, or other influence on technology than it is you who is the pseudo-intellectual.

Re:How is this news for nerds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39339325)

Please enlighten us then. How exactly, does art benefit or influence technology? I'm genuinely curious, not just trolling.

Re:How is this news for nerds? (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39339781)

The fact that anyone would ask this is truly astonishing. How stupid can you be?

Re:How is this news for nerds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39340487)

Aside from the scanning technology to detect the painting or the gap between the walls, I as well fail to see a technological side to this. From a science and technology standpoint, it could just as well be a 1-year old's drawing of a house hidden behind the wall, and a bathroom stall on the present side.

From the standpoint of it being a Da Vinci painting, that's entirely irrelevant, and has no bearing on science whatsoever. The single only science aspect is scanning the wall or analyzing the paint, which is nothing particularly new.

Re:How is this news for nerds? (5, Insightful)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336581)

Because Leonardo Da Vinci was a true nerd and he was a major character in two Assassins Creed games.

Re:How is this news for nerds? (3, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337043)

Partially because they've tried a lot of high tech ways to determine if there was a second fresco already, including trying to raise 400K from a Kickstarter to pay for lasers and Xrays and other things (they didn't make raise enough, alas.) And even if this low tech method has shown there's a second Fresco, it's going to take a lot of high tech work to move the existing painting.

Re:How is this news for nerds? (1)

tippe (1136385) | more than 2 years ago | (#39339503)

it's going to take a lot of high tech work to move the existing painting.

When in doubt: C4!

heh, heh...

Nothing to see here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336413)

There's nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

I know this is Slashdot and all... (5, Funny)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336453)

But I have a real urge to spew out a YO DAWG meme right now.

Re:I know this is Slashdot and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336751)

For the rest of us that don't know our memes, yes, this is funny. [knowyourmeme.com]

Re:I know this is Slashdot and all... (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336935)

And they say you can't learn things on /. Not only did Iearn a new meme, I was entertained as well. Yo Yo Dawg!

Great! (1)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338497)

Now I recommend for you to go forth and spread this new knowledge far and wide, to the rest of civilization which has not been exposed to it.

Re:I know this is Slashdot and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39338305)

YO DAWG, I herd you like paintings, so I put a painting in your painting so you can look at paintings while you look at paintings!

At last! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336461)

The remaining piece of the code will fall into place. We will finally know the answer to the fifth question, and no longer be cast into the gorge of eternal peril.

News for nerds? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336511)

Stuff that matters?

They drilled a hole in a wall. Wake me up when they feed a micro robot through said hole and have it crawl its way around the inside (with suction cups) taking photos of the newly found fresco to be stitched together with the awesome multiblend (http://horman.net/multiblend).

Now that's Slashvertisement!

His name was Leonardo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336549)

You can't refer to him as "Da Vinci" unless you're Dan Brown. It's either "Leonardo" or "Leonardo da Vinci".

Re:His name was Leonardo (2, Interesting)

jouassou (1854178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336605)

I thought the norm was to refer to people by their given name informally, and their family name in more formal settings. Unless the author happens to be a personal buddy of Leonardo da Vinci, I believe "Leonardo" is the inappropriate title.

Re:His name was Leonardo (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337139)

"da Vinci" means "of Vinci", the town he was born in. It is common practice to name people after where they came from because family names weren't so distinct, or weren't available, (or because one family could OWN a small town) and "Leonardo of Vinci" provides a lot more accuracy than "Leonardo" (a very, very common Italian name).

Similarly, Fibonacci was actually better known as Leonardo of Pisa ("Leonardo Pisano") - it's doubtful he was ever really called Fibonacci in real life. The Pythagoras that you probably know best was "Pythagoras of Samos" (because there were so damn many of them). Caravaggio was actually known as "Michelangelo of Caravaggio" and has no relation to the Michelangelo who painted the Sistine Chapel. Plato's name was really Aristocles.

The modern system of family name is just that - modern. Before that, your name could be derived from your job (Smith, Baker, etc.), your nickname, your birth-town, your main residence, your parent's nickname, the name of the local lord, etc.

Thus, suggesting that modern norms be applied to historical names is absolutely ridiculous because - almost certainly - nobody ever referred to anyone in that way back then. Hell, we're not even sure if some famous historical characters were EVER called by the names we use for them.

He was Leonardo, from Vinci. He'd probably look around in the street if you called him Leonardo. That's about all we know. The only other name ever given to him was actually his father's (Piero - again, another common Italian name).

Re:His name was Leonardo (1)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337979)

I submitted it as Leonardo in the title, but the name was changed en route to posting. However, they also added some extra links so that part was good.

Re:His name was Leonardo (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39337883)

I thought the norm was to refer to people by their given name informally, and their family name in more formal settings. Unless the author happens to be a personal buddy of Leonardo da Vinci, I believe "Leonardo" is the inappropriate title.

Leonardo is the turtle, DaVinci is the human.

Re:His name was Leonardo (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337629)

You can't refer to him as "Da Vinci" unless you're Dan Brown. It's either "Leonardo" or "Leonardo da Vinci".

Yes, but then you have to say it with a high pitch italian accent.

news for nerds, stuff that matters (-1, Troll)

zugedneb (601299) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336571)

and people ask me why i troll...

Re:news for nerds, stuff that matters (-1, Offtopic)

zugedneb (601299) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336661)

there was an exzibit i wisited some time ago, with all kind of art and design on dizplay... also, there was a poster with mona lisa and painter material given, where anyone could copy teh biatch... there were several people who stood there for a couple of hours, and painted, and by god, some of them were good... the point i am trying to make is that, yeah, statistically sepaking, the times has proven to us that so many people are good with various things, that we s hould get rid of the belief that we ar better just becouse we talk about "noble" people and "true masters" u see, even i iz edumificated, and are a man of many tricks so mod me the fuck up, i am not worse that thou :DDD

Photos (4, Insightful)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336591)

Ok, so they used sonar, photos, fiber optic cameras, extracted paint samples and a bunch of other fancy stuff to determine that a lost painting was present on a false wall behind a priceless mural and yet none of the pictures show ANY of this. If this is seriously a "research" project, why are they not posting pictures of the sonar, photos from the fiber optic camera or readings from the paint samples instead of just a bunch of "scientists" standing together for group shots? the closest they have is some student looking at a macbook that's mostly covered by a plant.

Re:Photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39339185)

Re-read the article numbnuts, the only paint that was removed was new restoration work, not the origin.

Re:Photos (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39340157)

they took samples of what is behind the wall (aka samples of the lost work) and found pigments know to only have been used by Da Vinci

Explore! Explore! (3, Interesting)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336595)

I just don't understand the reasoning of those that say furthet exploration is so damaging.

Who cares?

The painting was made for our perusal, not to secretly safekeep behind a 2nd wall. It would be saying the painting has some intrinsic value, that would still exist even when the world had been overrun by zombies.

If we uncover the painting we have the means to protect it, And make copies, to extend human knowledge.

Re:Explore! Explore! (1)

moozey (2437812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336667)

Why destroy an existing work of art in hope of finding one that might not be there? Seems pretty obvious to me...

Re:Explore! Explore! (2)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336761)

Existing work is visible and documented, can be re-created.
Hidden work is not visible and documentation on it is not so good that it can be recreated.
Technically a 3rd piece of art can be created over top of them both... to have future cultural value - not really obvious to me.

Re:Explore! Explore! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336837)

so you would burn the monna lisa as kindle only because you can watch any photo of it?

Re:Explore! Explore! (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337059)

If the photos are of such high quality as to capture every detail, then what value does the original have that would not be seen in a perfect reproduction? Are you supposing that there is some mystic art-substance in famous paintings that cannot be replicated? The only value I see in an original not present in an indistinguishable reproduction is forensic research potential, and the Mona Lisa is already well-documented.

Re:Explore! Explore! (3, Insightful)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337343)

Haven't they analysed the Mona Lisa and found the sketches underneath it which Leonardo did before painting? If we'd destroyed the painting before these techniques were discovered then we wouldn't be able to do this.

Re:Explore! Explore! (3, Insightful)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337517)

Seriously?

Humanity has almost always had a love of genuine artifacts, and that desire is practically universal. And to suppose that we could record perfect information about the original is laughable and completely ignores the intrinsic value of the original painting.

Concerning this new painting, I would very much like to see the new one, but destroying the outer painting is a terrible idea. I think that if they can gather enough evidence of a valid painting existing, then they will be able to gather enough funds to recover it safely.

Re:Explore! Explore! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39339469)

Your perception of time is interesting. It seems you believe we are at the pinnacle of human knowledge/technology.

Fortunately, Vasari knew 500 years ago that he was not at the pinnacle of human knowledge. That is why he probably covered it up with a new wall instead of destroying it.

Existing work is visible and documented, can be re-created.

Peter Paul Rubens believed his copy of The Battle of Anghiari was good enough... why are we looking for the original DaVinci now? In 500 more years we still won't be able to reproduce a work of art exactly as it was originally.

Hidden work is not visible and documentation on it is not so good that it can be recreated.

Documentation on it is not so good because all we have is Peter Paul Rubens' copy (which is what you are proposing we do for the original Vasari painting). 500 years from now we'll look back and say "maybe we shouldn't have destroyed that Vasari."

Re:Explore! Explore! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39340835)

I'm curious as to why current technology can't move the current painting wall. Surely we can come up with a way of slowly removing an inch of material from the bottom of the wall (unless the current painting goes all the way to the floor, at which point we'd have to remove an inch of the floor to get beneath the painting... unless there's some art painted on the floor for some bizarre reason). As the bottom inch is cut away, it's replaced with some wheeled platform. Once the bottom inch of the wall is removed and replaced with wheeled platforms for the length of the current painting, one could cut through the wall on either side and above the current painting. Assuming nobody screwed up the cuts, the wall could now just be wheeled out and moved anywhere else (or perhaps just a separate wall section in the middle of the room... the backside of that wall can now be used for another painting or displaying things), and voila, you now have access to Da Vinci's painting.

So yeah... not seeing a problem with this, aside from everyone worrying that someone will horribly screw up and destroy everything. At which point, don't contract this out to the lowest bidder, and have architects and engineers oversee the whole thing.

But even if it were magically 100% guaranteed not to damage either walls (beyond the cuttings mentioned above), I'm sure there'd still be a ton of opposition, because the wall itself is considered art or something ridiculous.

Re:Explore! Explore! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39339531)

These are Italians; they'll come up with some crazy scheme to remove Vasari's work and recover da Vinci's. It will cost a crazy amount of money and fail, messing up the Vasari masterpiece in the process. Then they'll spend the next twenty years and another crazy amount of money and more or less get the Vasari back to what it looked like before it started and something else that they'll say is the lost da Vinci, or it will be a sketch some carpenter made of the wall framing he later built. Of course, it will cost millions of Euros, but hey, who cares, only evil capitalists would question their public funding.
By that time, China will own most of Europe since they'll buy all of the Eurobonds. They'll be pissed when the Europeans beg for a restructuring and haul off most of Europe's art works as payment.

Re:Explore! Explore! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336669)

maybe you arent getting that the paint that has to be protected is the visible one and not the -speculated- hidden one?
Vasari's Battle of Marciano is in its rights as a masterpiece than Da Vinci's Battle of Anghiari and they cant risk to damage it just for the hope that somehow Da Vinci's one's has survived its entombment.

Re:Explore! Explore! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336675)

Copies have already been made before the second wall was constructed. See e.g. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Arezzo_anghiari_Battle_standard_leonardo_da_vinci_paint.jpg
And there is an important painting on the second wall as well.

Re:Explore! Explore! (5, Insightful)

igb (28052) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336777)

It's not the damage to the purported painting behind the wall, it's the damage to the integrity of a building whose decorations have been in situ for over four hundred years. They're not talking about drilling holes in a wall painted with magnolia emulsion to get at whatever lies behind, rather doing serious damage to frescos by Vasari. That requires that you believe the remains of a painting which Leonardo himself severely damaged with braziers and part melted off the wall are of more intrinsic worth than the long-standing paintings by a non-trivial figure than have been on the walls of that room since it was given its present form. There are other artists apart from Leonardo, you know.

Google Translate does a reasonable job of the Italia Nostra press release (http://goo.gl/KcLTn) which is worth reading. That television funding has been made available for the work is dubious, to say the least: they're not going to care about Vasari, are they?

Re:Explore! Explore! (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336867)

The painting's been behind a wall for the last X hundred years. How much better do you think preservation can get?

Modern preservation techniques range from having to combat mould, damp, humidity, dryness, insect infestation, frame cracking, etc. to just plain vandalism-proofing. Go read all the stuff that's been done to the Mona Lisa (the one painting most people would agree should be touched and played with as little as physically possible). The reason this hidden painting has survived so long is because WE DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS THERE.

Hell, even the drilling would have introduced dirt, dust, metal shavings, spores, etc. into the cavity that may not have been there (even if it wasn't air-tight). It's not a question of keeping that nice painting your mother gave you - it's hundreds of years old and will need to be preserved for hundreds more, and that makes preservation a different story.

Having said that, it's *BEHIND* an equally important fresco. If you had to tear down a Picasso to get to a 'da Vinci', you can't make that decision on your own. This is the same. And, we know that he thought that painting was shite, which is why he destroyed it and it was covered up. So you're actually tearing down one good, famous work for another crap, un-missed work that sits behind it by someone else - and in the process disturbing both that have been there for hundreds of years without problems.

Re:Explore! Explore! (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337135)

The painting's been behind a wall for the last X hundred years. How much better do you think preservation can get?

By modern standards, conditions can get far better. You're assuming that conditions "in situ" are the best option for preservation. The only thing guaranteed by being hidden is that the work was safe from vandalism and ineffective attempts at preservation/repair. For all we know generations of mice have been trimming their teeth on Leonardo's work.

Re:Explore! Explore! (4, Funny)

mfarah (231411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337557)

If you had to tear down a Picasso to get to a 'da Vinci', you can't make that decision on your own.

I know what your point is, but I have to say this anyway:

If you have to tear up a Picasso to get to a 'da Vinci', by all means do it! And trash some of Miró's paintings while you're at it, for an added bonus. }:->

(I'm from Catalunya, BTW, and I can't stand either of them)

Re:Explore! Explore! (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39340987)

I agree on the exploration, but it DOES matter that we don't damage/destroy one thing in order to obtain something else of equal merit. By waiting a little longer, you may be able to have both. Further, damage to the hidden painting due to light and the modern atmosphere should be limited as far as possible.

In fact, I'm not sure we have to "wait" in order to obtain an image of what is behind the second wall. There's presumably an airgap, and autonomous robots are quite capable of operating in those kinds of confined environments. Scan the hidden surface and then print out the scan. One hidden painting.

Early advertising (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39336705)

After countless samples and months of tests the results are in and the hidden painting reads B-U-R-M-A-S-H-A-V-E.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma-Shave

The Obsession with Leonardo (5, Insightful)

igb (28052) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336721)

The problem now is that we're heading into "stuff that Leonardo stood on the other side of the road to is touched with his genius" obsession.

I recently went to the (London) National Gallery Leonardo exhibition, at which a substantial proportion of his surviving works were brought together (both Madonna of the Rocks, for example) and the paintings that survive in a decent condition are astoundingly good: you can argue the toss about the relative merits of Da Vinci, Velasquez, Rembrandt and the rest, but that's the company he's clearly keeping.

However, what you don't get in an exhibition of Velasquez to anything like the same extent is the huge slew of "school of", "preparatory sketch for", "disputed", "attributed" and so on. There's plenty of Velasquez (or Goya, or Titian, or at a slightly less major level Turner) to go around, and therefore there's not the same perceived need to drag up everything last scrap of paper. A lot of the stuff that's of disputed provenance (or even, in the case of Salvator Mundi, is of broadly accepted provenance) wouldn't be held in anything like the esteem it is on purely artistic grounds --- Salvator Mundi was sold without the attribution for less than fifty quid just over fifty years ago, for example, and even though otherwise sensible people can write of Madonna of the Yarnwinder "The merest touch of Leonardo's genius is better than almost anyone else's signature work" (http://goo.gl/f3B88) there's a real whiff of idolatry to this attitude. Clearly, if you want to be regarded highly as an artist, make sure a lot of your paintings decay and you have only a small pool of material for later enthusiasts to obsess over.

In this case, the chances of there being a recoverable painting are close to zero: there are accounts of the paint being melted off the wall with braziers. There's a copy by Reubens of the section that was completed, but a lot of the rest was lost anyway. The painting that's having holes drilled in it is a not inconsiderable piece. âoeBut if I had to choose, I would choose Leonardo,â rather gives the game away.

Re:The Obsession with Leonardo (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336793)

Celebrity over talent. As I had a lengthy post about this on The Reg recently, I feel I need to comment.

It's a problem with the modern definition of art. Now "art" is about something by a celebrity that "makes you think". Historically, art was about talent - something you can't just reproduce. Now literally anybody could "recreate" one of the modern works in an afternoon and it would be *indistinguishable* from the original. Modern artists were asked to provide works for the 2012 Olympics here in London. I was genuinely of the belief that they were children's drawings for the same until I read the caption properly.

So even though Leonardo had obvious talent (and would NOT have been so famous otherwise), making works that only an expert painter could even approach, the modern art movement has to regard him as a celebrity in order to stay consistent. It's not about the "interpretation" of the "piece" rather than, say, the fact that it's a fucking good picture made with brushes and oils. Thus, you turn the value of the art from the talent used to create it to the celebrity name attached to it, and so any crappy sketch that could be attributed to him, some pillock will pay millions for so they can say "That's a 'da Vinci'". Not because it actually LOOKS good, or is a skilful piece of art.

Art *was* never about interpretation, but skill. It was never about celebrity, except as a recognised talent. Just because Turner did a shit in his toilet bowl does not make that shit art.

But, try and tell modern artists that and they laugh at you, mainly because they've redefined art to be something that they can be "good" at even if they are bad, and also something that they can claim you "don't understand". It started in the 1920's or thereabouts. Before that, if you did a crappy piece of art for your king, he'd have chopped your head off (or thereabouts).

Admire the SKILL of the artist, not the name or the "thought process". There are still skilful artists out there, but you won't find them in the Tate because they aren't "arty" enough.

Many mod points! (4, Interesting)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337337)

Can I mod you up to 6 super-insightful?

The art scene has become cultish, and actual talent has become secondary. I have had a couple of experiences in this area that really put me off the art scene. One I particularly recall, from many years ago: the Albuquerque Airport had just spent some enormous sum on a new picture, and the art critics were all impressed. Enough so that I went to see it. The picture turned out to consist of a small red dot in the center of a large yellow canvas. Hello? Aside from the fact that the colors matched the New Mexican flag, there was simply nothing there. A couple of minutes with a roller, 30 seconds with a brush. Perhaps the artist agonized about the precise size of the circle? Of course, you are supposed to feel inferior to the artsy, if you don't find deep meaning in such nonsense.

Re:Many mod points! (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337957)

This was my turning point:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15577818 [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Many mod points! (4, Funny)

wrook (134116) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338299)

OMG! I thought you must be exaggerating until I saw the link. I especially liked this bit:

Riley, who began her career using only black and white patterns, started to experiment with colour in 1967, the same year she began painting stripes.

It's a very lovely picture, but I think Riley, having spent 45 years painting stripes, should consider painting other things as well. A nice horsey or doggy would be wonderful!

Re:Many mod points! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338691)

I would love to see the expression of the commentator when someone looks them with a straight face and says "It's bullshit. Show me real art"

Re:Many mod points! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39339611)

I should point out that Bridget Riley has produced interesting work other than straight lines, her work is about the optical effects hence why it's called "Op-Art" although I tend not to be a fan of her work, she should not be dismissed so readily.

Re:Many mod points! (1)

nitio (825314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39339843)

Once, back in high school, during an art class I had to make a sculpture out of clay.

Turns out I know squat about sculpting and the best I could do was maybe two spheres pinned together with a toothpick or a cube. I just said "whatever", put them all together and started pinching it. It turned out something similar to, well, a pile of crap.

When the teacher approached and asked what it represented I playfully said "The agony of all the kids with no food" and chuckled. I got an A for that. I've proved that any crap can pass as art.

tl;dr: (some) art is a pile of crap.

Re:Many mod points! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39340839)

OMG! I thought you must be exaggerating until I saw the link. I especially liked this bit:

Riley, who began her career using only black and white patterns, started to experiment with colour in 1967, the same year she began painting stripes.

It's a very lovely picture, but I think Riley, having spent 45 years painting stripes, should consider painting other things as well. A nice horsey or doggy would be wonderful!

Nonsense! You're asking too much of her, to stretch and distort her world view that far. Instead of horses, how about asking for paintings of zebras?

Re:Many mod points! (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338105)

Years ago I saw (maybe on 60 Minutes, who knows) a clip about a woman who paid an artist to do an "installation" at her apartment for $10,000. It consisted of a 3" piece of rope nailed horizontally to the wall between the entranceway door hinge and the corner of the room. That's it. It just stuck in my mind as either a glaring example of "conspicuous consumption," or of one affluent person's vulnerability to a line of bullshit. (OTOH, maybe this was all a setup to get on 60 Minutes.)

Re:Many mod points! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39339017)

Years ago I saw (maybe on 60 Minutes, who knows) a clip about a woman who paid an artist to do an "installation" at her apartment for $10,000. It consisted of a 3" piece of rope nailed horizontally to the wall between the entranceway door hinge and the corner of the room.

Are you sure it was a 3" piece of rope and not a 3' piece of rope? A 3" piece of rope for $10,000 is ridiculous; if it was a 3' rope, however, I can certainly see how the patron received a piece of art commensurate with the cost.

Re:Many mod points! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39340059)

Ahh Slashdot. Where are you going my little tech site?

First, discussing makeup [slashdot.org].

Now the Art scene.

I'm going back to bed.... Maybe tomorrow this nightmare will be over.

Politics (1)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338655)

Modern artists were asked to provide works for the 2012 Olympics here in London. I was genuinely of the belief that they were children's drawings for the same until I read the caption properly.

It's not that skilled modern artists don't exist, ones who surpass any of the old masters even. It's that they don't have buddies in the right places to get the Olympics gig, apparently. The best painter of our day could be sitting in her rocking chair surrounded by 50 cats and buckets of paint, while drinking herself to death. Who knows?

Re:The Obsession with Leonardo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39338919)

I understand what you are saying; Richard Tuttle nailing a piece of rope to the wall can be hard to wrap your head around. But there is always a certain amount of wanting to do something new and different. Some of that is pushing cultural boundaries, but a lot of it is "wow, _another_ painting of a field of grain. look how grain-like it looks." Also by the early 1900s if you wanted an exact reproduction you could just photograph it. So painters maybe try something else. New techniques, new materials. You are talking about paint, but this happens with other art forms too; guitarists don't just play etudes from the 1600s. The form moves on.

Re:The Obsession with Leonardo (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39339237)

You miss the point.

A guitarist today requires as much skill as a guitarist in the past. The music moved on but still requires skill to perform. Modern art is the equivalent of those "4 minutes of silence" tracks you get - takes NO SKILL to perform, or to reproduce in it's original media, but hailed as "artistic".

Taking a photograph is also considerably less skilful (though at least has SOME skill to it) than painting an image that *looks* as real as a photograph. Even today, if you can paint THAT well that people think it's real, people are astounded and think it's amazing. Because it takes skill. It doesn't take skill, beyond a printer's apprenticeship, to put up a poster from a photograph you took.

Pretension does not make art. Skill makes art. A measure of skill is reproducibility. If I can't make a picture look like the Mona Lisa using only the tools and techniques the artist used, then it requires skill to do. If, however, you have a few stripes or a splodge on a bit of paper that I *CAN* reproduce myself quite simply using the same materials, then it's not really skilful and thus, I would argue, no really "art".

This definition was the shared, global definition of art right up until the 20's, thus proving my point.

Re:The Obsession with Leonardo (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39339673)

If you want to enjoy skillful art, you're far better served at a farmer's market or country fair than at an exhibition in the city. And it's not about folk art, either-- I'm referring to adept use of color, figure, and light to depict a variety of scenes and subjects.

Re:The Obsession with Leonardo (1)

Chakra5 (1417951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39340269)

I believe the following actually fits in with an aspect of the parent post, it does appear parent is making the case that Leonardo's scrap suffers from Celebrity over talent. God knows that can be and often is rampant to absurdity...and while I agree with the majority of sentiment here, I wish to make two addenda.

Leonardo was more than a painter. He is well established as a multi-disciplined master, and a true genius. The quintessential renaissance man.

Few artists scribbles have provided such insight into the very thinking and process of said genius.

[shrug]...A scrap of a sketch by Leonardo often really [i]is[/i] a treasure in it's own right.

Pay, wall! (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#39336735)

I've seen Barnett Newman and I know it's all suggestion.
Why not leave said walls alone, put up a sign and ticket-box, and be done with it.
Profit!

Re:Pay, wall! (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39339703)

I'll go one better. My idea for the ultimate "Eco-friendy art installation" - any open space (a wooded lot or open field would do well) with a spot for a person to pay, enter, and then leave. When they leave they get a piece of paper saying how much of a carbon impact they've had on the site so they can feel shitty about themselves.

And yes, I claim copyright. Not because I want money; I just don't want some artsy douchebag to actually do this.

Schrödinger's cat (1, Funny)

rapiddescent (572442) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337017)

It'd be ironic if they destroyed the wall, instead of finding a Da Vinci masterpiece, found a dead cat.

A new TV special coming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39337317)

This kind of thing is exactly the material cable TV "history" channels loves to use to make three one hour part specials. Three hours of yadda yadda, and nothing conclusive.

By any reasonable criteria... (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337365)

...DaVinci trumps Vasari. If Vasari's work can be preserved while extracting DaVinci's, fantastic. All due care should be taken, but give me a damaged DaVinci over an intact Vasari, any day of the week.

Re:By any reasonable criteria... (1)

Chakra5 (1417951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39340307)

yes but the rub is that the DaVinci is far from a certainty. A Vasari in the hand as it were....

Erm... (1)

Saintwolf (1224524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39337751)

Can't you just access it from the other side of the wall? Thereby bypassing the Vasari entirely.

Re:Erm... (1)

lw54 (73409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338337)

From my understanding, the issue is the painting is a fresco so the pigments have been added to the wall's plaster while it was still wet. If they came from the other side, it would require removing the entire wall intact. Still, I wonder if serious thought has been given to the idea.

X-ray... (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338125)

Can't they use scanning equipment to see what's underneath the existing painting?

I don't see the need to destroy the newer artwork merely to uncover a lost Leonardo da Vinci painting. It should be enough to know what it looks like. Maybe then hire some artist to reproduce it to display in museums.

Just a Media Stunt (1)

ForMeToPoopOn (584061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39338161)

The mayor of Florence is really pushing this on media - he's a major "bischero" who - just like any other politician - can't get enough attention
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