If you’ve ever wondered how art experts determine authentic works of art from fakes, here’s your opportunity to learn.

Author Rustin Levenson, president and founder of Art Care Conservation in New York and Miami, will offer these insights and more during a free lecture and book signing at the museum on Feb. 4, 2-4 p.m.

Levenson co-authored the prize-winning book “Seeing through Paintings” with Andrea Kirsh. It is a handbook that introduces the layperson to the examination of easel paintings from medieval times to the present.

During the lecture, Levenson will discuss how conservationists use the materials and techniques used in paintings to make art historical assessments and determine authenticity. She also will share some secrets of the conservation studio and the work performed in them. 

“The materials can authenticate the era of the painting,” Levenson says. “For example, if radiocarbon testing dates the canvas of a painting from 1979, it can't have been painted earlier than that, or if X-ray fluorescence shows the element Titanium, the work would have to be from the 20th century.”

“Seeing through Paintings” was awarded the American Library Association Excellence Prize.  The authors were also awarded the Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation Prize by the College Art Association and Heritage Preservation. The Boston Bookbuilders awarded “Seeing through Paintings” its prize for design. 

Levenson earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and a Diploma in Paintings Conservation from Harvard University. Her resume includes stints at the Fogg Museum, the Canadian Conservation Institute, The National Gallery of Canada, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

She is a Fellow in the American Institute for Conservation and The International Institute for Conservation, and has served on numerous professional committees as well as chairing the Paintings Specialty Group of the American Institute for Conservation.

Please RSVP for this lecture via email: Reservations@PolkMuseumofArt.org.

“Seeing through Paintings" is available for purchase at the book signing. Pre-orders are $42.50 and can be made by emailing Terry Aulisio at TAulisio@PolkMuseumofArt.org. 

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