Art conservation that does more harm than good
Aug07

Art conservation that does more harm than good

Hindsight is 20-20, as they say. This week Art Daily* reported that a widespread preservation treatment, developed to help canvases survive humid environments, actually makes paintings more vulnerable when humidity levels soar.** “The wax-resin treatment was enormously popular in Europe and the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s,” says Cecil Krarup Andersen at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, who made the discovery. “Many...

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Figuring out what killed crazy Caravaggio
Jun24

Figuring out what killed crazy Caravaggio

“Caravaggio’s life was even darker than his paintings.” This is how Italian microbiologist Giuseppe Cornaglia began an account of his uphill battle to figure out what microbial pathogen may have killed the famous and violent 16th and 17th century Italian painter, who died under rather curious circumstances in 1610. Cornaglia is part of a growing number of researchers who look into the dental pulp of skulls found in graves, in search...

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The two Mona Lisas debate – Everybody take a breath now.
Feb14

The two Mona Lisas debate – Everybody take a breath now.

“The Mona Lisa Foundation’s mission is to make Leonardo’s ‘Earlier Mona Lisa’ known and loved in its own right, as much as the version that hangs in the Louvre Museum.” This quote comes from the website of a Swiss organization that sent out a press release yesterday announcing it had new scientific proof that a painting of a younger looking Mona Lisa is the first portrait da Vinci made of the famous muse. And a maelstrom of news...

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When a Rembrandt copy is not a forgery
Jan25

When a Rembrandt copy is not a forgery

So you’d think that making a replica of a Rembrandt might be frowned upon by the art world, but this copy of “An old man in military costume” has full approval of its owners. In fact, the folks at the Paul Getty Museum in LA, asked their own intern to replicate the masterpiece as well as the hidden painting beneath it. It seems that there’s a pretty good reason for making the copy, or “mock-up” as the researchers call it. For years,...

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The military borrows from cultural heritage science.
Nov07

The military borrows from cultural heritage science.

Civilian society constantly makes use of aerospace and military inventions: Can anyone say the Internet? Or transparent braces? (These nearly invisible dental devices are made from a material called polycrystalline alumina, which was initially developed by NASA “to protect the infrared antennae of heat-seeking missile trackers,” notes Discovery.com) Cultural heritage also borrows from NASA: Portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy...

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Weeping Paintings
Oct15

Weeping Paintings

You don’t really expect a seemingly dry painting to suddenly start oozing streaks of wet paint, seven years after its completion. So when Otto Piene’s Harvest, which was finished in 1993, began to weep white paint in 2000, owners, conservators and the artist were all rather surprised. Although Harvest is Piene’s only work to start weeping, the strange liquefying process has happened to dozens of other artworks from...

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