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Painter Mark Rothko directs the installation of his murals in Harvard’s Holyoke Center in 1963. Artwork: © 2009 Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Elizabeth H. Jones, © President and Fellows of Harvard College

How we restored Harvard’s Rothko murals – without touching them

In 1989, I was a conservation student at the Courtauld Institute in London. During a class on varnish removal, my professor, Gerry Hedley, demonstrated how shining blue light on a picture with yellowed…
Frederic Bazille’s Studio 9 Rue de la Condamine (left) and Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barber Shop (right). The computer was able to detect similarities in the composition of both paintings. Yellow circles indicate similar objects, red lines indicate composition, and the blue square represents similar structural elements.

Computer science can only help – not hurt – art historians

I was the lead of a team of computer scientists at Rutgers that published a paper this past August titled, “Toward Automated Discovery of Artistic Influence.” In that paper we reported on our research…
Rising costs, the growing difficulty of securing loans, and a lack of curating talent have made the blockbuster exhibition a hazardous enterprise. Barney Livingston/Flickr

What happened to the blockbuster art exhibition?

A blockbuster art exhibition can double the annual attendance of an art museum and pull in significant amounts of money. Bring Vermeer’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring to the Frick Collection in New York…
A view of the atrium from the Calderwood Courtyard. Zak Jensen

A preview of Harvard’s $350 million art museum renovation

After ten years of planning and six years of construction the Harvard Art Museums opens its doors to the public on November 16. The $350 million renovation combines the collections of three distinct museums…
BP Portrait Award 2014 Shortlisted entries, L to R: Richard Twose, Jean Woods 2013; Thomas Ganter, Man with a Plaid Blanket, 2013; David Jon Kassan, Letter to my Mom, 2013. National Portrait Gallery

Portraits are a fine art, so let’s embrace the selfie

The BP Portrait Award 2014, which opens at the National Portrait Gallery this week, might seem to some like the celebration of a dying art. In our digital age, portraiture might seem to be less and less…
George W Bush has retired from politics and is now painting portraits of world leaders. But why? EPA/LARRY SMITH

The artist formerly known as President George W Bush

“George Bush’s paintings”? Three words, so unexpectedly and yet intimately and possessively arranged. This week the former US president unveiled an exhibition of 24 portraits of world leaders and spoke…
‘Nope, definitely not a Caravaggio.’ International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

What Cold War nuclear weapons can tell us about art fraud

The identification of fakes and forgeries is a basic issue that has always raised controversy. This is unsurprising, of course – the enormous sums garnered by top paintings would turn to dust as soon as…
Early prototype of Skippy. Kangaroo Private Collection Courtesy of Nevill Keating Pictures Ltd

It’s Australia v England, in battle over Stubbs masterpieces

Not for the first time Britain and Australia are at loggerheads over cultural heritage. At issue this time are two images of genuine historical significance to both countries: Kongouro from New Holland…
Famous for his urban landscape paintings, Australian artist Jeffrey Smart has passed away at the age of 91. AAP/Supplied

Vale Jeffrey Smart: a friendly painter of alien space

Death has a special significance in the history of art. Whenever artists die, a kind of art dies with them. Painting will survive Jeffrey Smart (1921–2013) but the kind of picture that he produced is impossible…
Media commentators have been eager to paint Neandertals as artists – but why? Federico Gambarini/AAP

The art of loving Neandertals – they’re like us, but different

An article published recently in Science sheds new light on paintings found in 11 cave sites in Spain. At 40,800 years old, some of these paintings could be among the oldest anywhere in the world. But…
The collision of art and science is producing some impressive results. CSIRO, Australian Synchrotron and National Gallery of Victoria

Streeton, Da Vinci and the science of seeing art’s secrets

The ability to see through walls and other objects Superman-style is surely high on the wish-list for many children. Sadly, with the purchase of a child’s first pair of novelty X-ray glasses, such dreams…
Vernon Ah Kee - I see Deadly people, Lex Wotton.

Judging the Archibald: the rules of the game

UPDATE: Tim Storrier has won the 2012 Archibald prize for his self-portrait, The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch). Shortly after noon today, Steven Lowy, president of the trustees of the Art Gallery of…

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