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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ever wonder if a lost masterpiece lies hidden under the surface of a newer work? Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a simple-to-use app, unveiled here today at the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science) that can zoom in on the smallest details of a painting and depict them in 3D, transforming brushstrokes into canyons and cliffs. The resulting landscapes, which can easily be mistaken for satellite images of Earth’s rugged terrain, could help art conservationists and historians preserve pieces at risk—and reveal what may lie beneath.
Consider, for example, the small goosebumplike blebs that pepper the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, the mid-20th-century artist made famous by her depictions of flowers and the Southwest United States. At first, art conservationists thought these tiny protrusions, imaged above from her painting Pedernal 1941, were grains of sand embedded in the paint. But they soon recognized them to be the...
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Measuring his life out one teaspoon at a time.