SGS‘s art services experts stepped in to perform a full technical study of the mask, including visual inspection, photographic documentation in visible and UV light, documentation under stereomicroscope, digital X-ray radiography, X-ray microfluorescence, and pigment/binder sampling. Conservators and conservation fellows at the Met are working to further analyze the pigment/binder samples collected by SGS.
The results provided by SGS will help Dr. Cohen compare this mask to others from the same period and region, and to better characterize the mask’s influence on the construction techniques used in Picasso’s Guitar. The lab analyses indeed permit Dr. Cohen to clarify his preliminary findings (based solely on visual inspection) presented at the Musée Picasso in Paris in 2016. The overall research project is set to conclude later this year, with publications to follow.
Joshua I. Cohen (PhD Columbia University) is a historian of African art specializing in 20th-century cross-cultural exchange. He is Assistant Professor at The City College of New York, and the 2016-17 Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (AAOA) at The Met.