“On The Flip Side: Secrets On The Backs Of Paintings” is one of the latest exhibits at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). On display until the end of October, this exhibit offers guests at the museum a rare chance to view paintings from all sides, most notably the back where details about history (including restoration) and composition reside. The information found on the back of a work often reveals important forensic clues about previous ownership, materials used in the composition, prior restorations and repairs, and the exhibition history of the work.
Professor Robert Bachman contributed to this exhibit through a technical analysis of a work by Josef Albers that is part of the exhibit. This analysis confirmed that the artist’s notations about materials used in the creation of the painting were mostly correct. Additionally the study found details, such as a second signing by the artist and evidence for small repairs done at a later time, which add to the historical knowledge of the work. Professor Bachman’s work was completed as part of a visiting Fellowship at the IMA over the summer of 2015, which was supported by grants from the Dreyfus Foundation (Project MUSE), the Associated Colleges of the South and Mellon Collaborative for Southern Appalachian and Place-Based Studies. In addition to providing knowledge for this exhibit, the fellowship experience enhanced Professor Bachman’s ability to teach in the Finding Your Place program and laid the foundation for a new course offering entitled “Chemistry of Art and Artifacts.”