David Kirkpatrick

February 25, 2010

Art conservation and tattoo removal

As an occasional art conservator, I always find new developments in the field interesting. I don’t do painting restoration, but this technique sounds like it’s fairly unobtrusive and gets the job done. Plus lasers are always cool.

The release:

Laser surgery technique gets new life in art restoration

IMAGE: Art conservationists cleaned the two angels on the left with traditional restoration methods. They cleaned the one on the right using an advanced laser technique, which produced better results.

Click here for more information.

A laser technique best known for its use to remove unwanted tattoos from the skin is finding a second life in preserving great sculptures, paintings and other works of art, according to an article in ACS’ monthly journal,Accounts of Chemical Research. The technique, called laser ablation, involves removing material from a solid surface by vaporizing the material with a laser beam.

Salvatore Siano and Renzo Salimbeni point out that laser cleaning of artworks actually began about 10 years before the better known medical and industrial applications of the technique. Doctors, for example, use laser ablation in medicine to remove unwanted tattoos from the skin. In industry, the technique can remove paints, coatings and other material without damaging the underlying surface.

In the article, the scientists note that laser ablation has had an important impact in preserving the world’s cultural heritage of great works of art. They describe the latest advances in laser cleaning of stone and metal statues and wall paintings, including masterpieces like Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Porta del Paradiso and Donatello’s David. They also discuss encouraging results of laser cleaning underwater for materials that could deteriorate if exposed to air.

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ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE “Advances in Laser Cleaning of Artwork and Objects of Historical Interest: The Optimized Pulse Duration Approach”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/ar900190f

February 4, 2010

Medical imaging and art forgery

A lesson on applying technology across entire disciplines. Usually the cutting edge of imaging tech is found in medicine for obvious reasons, but that same tech can be applied in other fields to sometimes startling effect.

The release:

Imaging method for eye disease used to eye art forgeries

IMAGE: The oil painting on the left fluoresces to reveal hidden details (right) when exposed to a new noninvasive imaging technique that uses ultraviolet light.

Click here for more information.

Scientists in Poland are describing how a medical imaging technique has taken on a second life in revealing forgery of an artist’s signature and changes in inscriptions on paintings that are hundreds of years old. A report on the technique, called optical coherence tomography (OCT), is in ACS’ Accounts of Chemical Research, a monthly journal.

Piotr Targowski notes that easel paintings prepared according to traditional techniques consist of multiple layers. The artist, for instance, first applies a glue sizing over the canvas to ensure proper adhesion of later layers. Those layers may include an outline of the painting, the painting itself, layers of semitransparent glazes, and finally transparent varnish. Art conservators and other experts resort to a variety of technologies to see below the surface and detect changes, including forged signatures and other alterations in a painting. But those approaches may damage artistic treasures or not be sensitive enough to detect finer details.

The scientists describe how OCT, used to produce three-dimensional images of the layers of the retina of the eye, overcomes those difficulties. They used OCT to analyze two oil paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. In one, “Saint Leonard of Porto Maurizio,” OCT revealed evidence that the inscription “St. Leonard” was added approximately fifty years after completion of the painting. In the other, “Portrait of an unknown woman,” OCT found evidence of the possible of forgery of the artist’s signature.

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ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Structural Examination of Easel Paintings with Optical Coherence Tomography”

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE
http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/ar900195d

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