News / Arts & Entertainment

Science Benefits Art Preservation

Science Benefits Art Preservationi
X
September 30, 2013 7:55 PM
Art is considered part of the legacy of humankind that must be treasured and preserved. That can be a challenge in cities where temperature and humidity fluctuate over the course of the year. One such city, home to a large number of artistic masterpieces, is Houston, where VOA's Greg Flakus prepared this report on the science and craft of art conservation.
Greg Flakus
— Art is considered part of the legacy of humankind that must be treasured and preserved. That can be a challenge in cities where temperature and humidity fluctuate over the course of the year. One such city, home to a large number of artistic masterpieces, is Houston, Texas.  

A great artist can dazzle us with images that are, when deconstructed, nothing more than brush strokes applied over a taut piece of canvas.

But when paintings age and start to crack, conservators like Melissa Gardner do some touching up.

"I don't think of it so much as I am adding myself to the painting as I am just restoring, putting back, what the artist intended to be there," she said.

The director of conservation at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, David Bomford, says restoration can sometimes involve removing discolored paint applied in past restorations.

"A present-day restorer will very carefully, within the confines of the damage, touch in those losses with modern paints that do not discolor," he said.

Modern technology can help identify a work of art when its authenticity is in question.

Earlier this month, this painting, found in someone's attic in Europe, was presented in Amsterdam as a newly discovered work by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh called "Sunset at Montmajour."

It was authenticated by comparing it with this painting by Van Gogh, "The Rocks," which is owned by The Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Bomford agreed to help the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands compare the two.

"We took paint samples, we looked at the materials of the painting, and they did the same to their picture," he said.

More assistance came from Rice University Professor Don Johnson, who used special imaging tests to compare the threads in each canvas.

The tests showed , not only was this painting similar to the one in Europe but, that they came from the same bolt of canvas.

Science continues to provide conservationists with tools so they can see inside a work of art and devise better approaches to repair.

It's a never-ending job.  In addition to the museum's collection of some 1,700 paintings, there are sculptures, furniture and elaborately carved and gilded picture frames, like this one, that frequently need maintenance.

Works not on display are kept in climate-controlled storage rooms, insulated to guard against even a power outage during a hurricane, says Bomford.

"If these things are going to be preserved for future generations, it needs the expertise of people working in the conservation labs of great museums to keep these things alive," he said.

It's all for the benefit of art lovers everywhere.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

New Orleans-based Water Seed joins Shawna Renee inside the "Soul Lounge" where they introduce listeners to their latest album, a wonderful fusion of jazz, soul and rhythm & blues. The group also explains how the heart of New Orleans influences each of them as musicians and songwriters.