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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.