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Subject: Exhibition on conservation research

Exhibition on conservation research

From: Francesca Casadio <fcasadio<-a>
Date: Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Communicating Conservation: Renoir's True Colors: Science Solves a
Art Institute of Chicago"
Until April 27, 2014

Currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago is a new pop-up
exhibition that aims at the far-reaching dissemination of
conservation research to both the general and specialized public.
The exhibition Renoir's True Colors: Science Solves a Mystery,
presents a behind-the-scenes look at recent technical research on
Pierre-Auguste Renoir's painting Madame Leon Clapisson, 1883.
Complete with photomicrographs and details of the painting, raking
light, infrared, and x-ray images, cochineal bugs, historic paint
tubes, lab vials and faded samples of paints, this focus exhibition
provides the public with a new experience of the permanent
collection sharing what conservators and scientists have uncovered
about the Impressionists' painting process.

When the portrait was unframed, the presence of a band of intense
violet-red paint at the edges of the painting, indicated that one of
the pigments used throughout the background of the work, had faded
over the course of time.  Using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy
(SERS)--a cutting-edge analytical technique based on the combined
use of nanoparticles and laser light--Federica Pozzi, A.W. Mellon
Fellow in Conservation Science found that Renoir initially infused
the backdrop of the portrait with scarlets and purples largely made
of carmine lake.  Armed with this new knowledge, and based on the
unfaded purple shade revealed along the edges, Assistant Paintings
Conservator Kelly Keegan was able to generate a full-scale digital
visualization of the painting with the hypothesized original colors
restored to the background.

The exhibition displays both this re-colorized reproduction and
Renoir's original painting side-by-side, offering an opportunity to
appreciate the changes, which, while dramatic, have not lessened the
beauty and luminosity of the painting as it appears today.  The
original work is additionally presented in a case that allows
360-degrees views and thus a glimpse of the deep hues that have been
hidden under the frame for over a century

Since its opening on February 12, 2014, the exhibition and its
associated programming have enjoyed a very warm public reception.  A
short video describing the work of conservators and scientists is
available online


"Renoir's True Colors: Science Solves a Mystery" and related content
have demonstrated great appeal for popular media as well, earning
both national (Chicago Sun-Times) and international (BBC News, The
Times, The Guardian, and The Sydney Morning Herald etc.) press

Providing this front-row seat to the in-depth research work that
typically takes places behind the scenes at the museum, the
exhibition helps fostering a new appreciation for the works of
conservators and scientists within museums, and hopefully will bring
visitors and scholars alike closer to the artists and their creative

If you are in the Chicago area this Spring, please stop by and visit
the exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Francesca Casadio, PhD
Andrew W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave
60603 Chicago, IL
fcasadio<-a t->artic< . >edu
Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago
CEnter for Scientific Studies in the Arts

                  Conservation DistList Instance 27:37
                  Distributed: Sunday, March 30, 2014
                       Message Id: cdl-27-37-012
Received on Thursday, 27 March, 2014

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