|The iconic "search" symbol|
|Katharine Hepburn by Al Hirschfeld|
Famous caricature artist Al Hirschfeld was known for hiding his daughter Nina's name in his work, and would indicate after his signature how many times the name appeared. Many a child and adult alike have been fascinated with trying to spot all the names. In this rendering of Katharine Hepburn, you can spot one in the far left leaf on her collar...depending on how much time you have, you may be able to find the rest in the crazy hair.
Dan Brown's book "The Da Vinci Code" comes to mind when thinking about hidden codes, but theories on hidden objects and messages in famous works of art abound. There is an entire website, www.vangoghcontroversy.com, devoted to the notion that Van Gogh's works were full of hidden messages and pictures, many related to religion. The site puts forth that a donkey, representing the biblical depiction of Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey, can clearly be seen in the shape of the beard in one of the many portraits Van Gogh painted of postman Joseph Roulin. Of course, like those optical illusion puzzles, once you see it, it will drive you crazy because that's all you'll see.
|Van Gogh's Postman Roulin|
Another version of things "Hidden in Plain Sight" in paintings (actually, not so plain sight; in this case just hidden) is the new scientific technology that has evolved, which has enabled museums and art conservators to discover earlier versions of paintings underneath famous works of art. One example is Picasso's "The Blue Room," which was recently discovered, through infrared scanning, to have been painted over an earlier work, a portrait of an unknown man in a bow tie.
In another recent fascinating discovery, scientists at the Winterthur Museum's Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory found that beneath a study for a family portrait by N.C. Wyeth lay another painting. The painting was a full color illustration Wyeth did for a magazine short story. In the magazine, the illustration appeared only in black and white; so until this painting was revealed using x-ray imaging, it had not been known that it had been done in color. Many artists who provided illustrations for magazines did them in shades of gray if they knew they would be reproduced without color.
We look forward to seeing how artists will meet the challenge of hiding the search symbol within their works for the juried show; possibly years later these works will be the subject of much debate among art historians.
--Sandi Parker, Co-Director, Gallery Underground