Last Lavens

The last two articles by eminent art historian D H Laven have been republished over at Underneath the Bunker. To whet your burgeoning appetite, here is a quote from his piece on Laetitia Blauman:

As the age of x-ray has revealed, there is often more beneath the skin of our paintings than a skeleton. Sometimes there is another body altogether. Paintings that get a lot of attention are often covering others – now forgotten. And these hidden worlds are neither rare nor, as many would think, have they been opened up to the public as freely as you would suppose. Believe it or not (and trust me, it isn’t hard to believe) some of the bigwigs operating our national centres of art are somewhat reluctant to tell the truth about their wards. ‘Underdrawing’ they mumble, when asked what lies below the surface of many paintings: ‘Just underdrawing’. But there is rarely any ‘just’ to these paintings. By no means. And yet there is sadly little talk these days of the aardvark below the Mona Lisa – badly painted though it is. Nor does anyone seem to have the confidence to describe the rather odd abstract painting below Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. And so they ignore it.

Further to this, I have been promised yet another excerpt from Laven’s forthcoming work The Story of Forgotten Art. I have been informed that it deals with an artist whose work appears in seventeen-year cycles. That much I know. The rest, as they say, is supposition.


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