Art Examiner Uncovers Secret Basquiat Drawings Created With Invisible Ink2 min read

A mural by elusive street artist Banksy in honor of a Basquiat exhibition in London. Image by Ungry Young Man via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

What was meant to be a regular forensic inspection for an art expert turned out to be the creative equivalent of hitting a gold mine.

New York-based art conservator Emily Macdonald-Korth is now urging owners of works by late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to give their collections a thorough look-over as there might be more than meets the eye.

Macdonald-Korth had been asked by a client to verify if his Basquiat painting was created in 1981. She planned to carry out her analysis by conducting pigment and elemental evaluations, shooting technical photographs, and then studying the artwork under UV and infrared lights.

Everything occured as expected until the researcher shone her handheld UV flashlight over the piece to look out for signs that it had been repaired before, according to artnet News.

It then dawned on Macdonald-Korth that Basquiat had embellished the untitled piece with invisible ink that could only be viewed under blacklight. Using her UV flashlight, the conservator could see arrows that appeared to be illustrated using a blacklight crayon.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “He basically did a totally secret part of this painting.”

It’s not known if Basquiat included the sketches to guide him along his working process, or if they were part of the masterpiece. Macdonald-Korth, however, believes they fit into his style of layering drawings and keeping some partially visible.

“He might have been playing with a UV flashlight and thought, ‘This is cool.’ It really relates to his use of erasure.”

Your Basquiat piece might be more intricate than you originally thought. Macdonald-Korth recommends owners of Basquiat paintings to get long-wave UV flashlights and scrutinize them for extra details.

“You can get one [on] Amazon,” she said. “It’s so exciting to see something that’s literally invisible that the artist put there on purpose, completely intentionally.”

[via artnet News, images via various sources]