Kentucky chemist uncovers hidden, faded colors in Van Gogh painting

Vincent Van Gogh had written about “pink” flowers and “lilac trunks of poplars,” in his work, but they were lost to time.

In a matter of years, they’d faded from the canvas.

So this Kentucky professor went on a treasure hunt of sorts looking for them.

Three hundred and eighty-seven white flowers speckled “Undergrowth with Two Figures,” but when Van Gogh completed it in 1890, he’d never intended for all of them to be white.

So Center College’s Jeff Fieberg used science to see this painting in a way it hadn’t been seen in more than two centuries since Van Gogh created it.

The incredibly popular “Beyond Van Gogh the Immersive Experience” is arriving at the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville on July 6. For the next two months, Louisvillians will have the chance to experience 300 of the famed Impressionists artworks through 4 trillion high- resolution content pixels.

This is a public, up-close, intimate look at digital reproductions of Van Gogh’s masterpieces.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields operates a 3,000 square foot state-of-the-art analytical and research laboratory for the study of artists' materials.  Here Greg Smith, who is a 1995 Center College graduate and the lab's senior conservation scientist, poses with Jeff Fieberg holding Vincient Van Gogh's

And while Fieberg has nothing to do with the event itself, ahead of the show, I wanted to talk to someone who’d been up close and intimate with a real Van Gogh.

That’s how I ended up on a video call with Fieberg, a chemistry and art history professor at Centre, who spent an afternoon explaining to me in extreme detail how he followed the molecules in pigments to see Van Gogh’s art as it was when his brush first hit the canvas.

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