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The Prado Museum: On The Reverse

A tantalising display of complete works of art from back to front is on display at the national art museum in central Madrid.

Featuring the creations of over 100 artworks this exhibition explores the life of paintings from years past in a groundbreaking study of the backs of canvases. This journey has been created by artist Miguel Ángel Blanco, who has captured the works from reverse in this collection, which includes the Prado’s own as well as several partaking collectors and museums from across the globe.

Interestingly the back of a painting has most usually been ignored and it is only by looking at the whole picture that the journey of a canvas can be appreciated.

Van Gogh (1853-1890), René Magritte (1898-1967), Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), Pablo Palazuelo (1915-2007), are just a few of the selected artists that have been chosen for this unique viewing.

The museum opens with ‘the artist behind the canvas’, which is a collection of artists standing behind a canvas in their own studios.

There are different sections of the displays that rediscover important focuses of this new discovery. A forgotten landscape or figurine to a stamp from a previous exhibition have been analysed to create this exhibition.

The final section of the exhibition is ‘the nature in the background’ where past materials are discovered, even dust that has settled on long standing of works in exhibition halls. The museum writes that “A short time ago the Museo del Prado removed The Transfiguration by Giovanni Francesco Penni from the wall, allowing Miguel Ángel Blanco to collect some of the dust accumulated on its reverse, which he has used to make three box-books for his ‘Library of the Forest’.”

The exhibition On The Reverse is on until the 3rd March 2024 and tickets are available on this link Prado Museum of Madrid (