On the Reverse: at the Prado

November 7 2023

Image of On the Reverse: at the Prado

Picture: ElPais

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Prado in Madrid have opened an exhibition today dedicated to examining the reserve of paintings. This includes deciphering the histories of various works of art, and where they may have travelled to and from, but also the interesting decorations and condition issues often hidden when a painting is hung flatly against a wall.

According to the blurb on the museum's website:

This exhibition goes beyond the simple action of turning paintings around. Rather, the Museo del Prado is undertaking a complete reassessment of the backs of works in its collections while also identifying relevant examples in other major museums which reveal how appreciation of works of art is enhanced when we do more than just look at the front. The exhibition addresses issues that have never previously been brought together and in which there is also space for imaginative interpretations: the emergence of the reverse as a pictorial motif in two sub-genres: the self-portrait of the artist behind the canvas and the depiction of the picture back in trompe l’oeil; the poetic reading of the stretcher as a cross; two-sided paintings; the back as a field for experimentation and subjective expression; aesthetic appreciation of the material nature of the works, and the issue of the viewer seen from behind, which makes us aware of the particular spatial relationships that are generated by human interaction with art.

The show will run until 3rd March 2024.

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