Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dali gets a health check: Using medical devices to diagnose art

Date:
September 12, 2013
Source:
University College London - UCL
Summary:
Scientists and conservators have developed a new method to diagnose painting canvases from the back, without disturbing a single fibre, to see if they can withstand the stress of handling and travel.

Self-Portrait Splitting into Three, 1926: “I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject, rather does the person grow to look like his portrait,” is one of Dalí’s famous quotes particularly fitting to the featured Self-Portrait Splitting into Three, 1926. This is one of his early works on canvas made of cotton, prone to chemical splitting due to acidity and environmental influences. Researchers devised a technique to non-invasively diagnose the health of canvas to prevent tears and consequential image loss, thus helping to avoid unnecessary costly repair.
Credit: © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, VEGAP, 2013

Scientists and conservators have developed a new method to diagnose painting canvases from the back, without disturbing a single fibre, to see if they can withstand the stress of handling and travel.

Related Articles


Using the method -- which is similar to the way doctors measure blood sugar without the need for needles -- scientists examined 12 paintings by the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí.

They assessed the 'health' of the canvases, which are known to degrade with time due to acidity and environmental conditions. Once a canvas is brittle, expensive conservation is required.

While all 12 were shown to be in a good condition and can continue to be enjoyed safely, there was evidence of the early canvases approaching the threshold for safe travel. Interestingly, it was also shown that these same canvases were made of inexpensive low-quality cotton, used by the young Dalí who later became known also for his extravagant lifestyle.

The research is published in Royal Society of Chemistry journal Analytical Methods.

By shining invisible near infrared light on the canvas through fibre optics, scientists obtained information about the 'health' of the painting from the reflection of the light. Since canvas is the carrier of paint, any tears or other mechanical degradation could lead to loss of the image if the canvas is too brittle.

"While distressed paint layers can be evaluated visually from the front, there has been no method available so far to evaluate the fragility of canvas without actually cutting off a piece of it, which is certainly unacceptable" explained Irene Civil, Head of the Conservation Department of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation from Figueres, Spain. The Foundation greets in excess of 1.5 million visitors annually, and relies on visitor income to take proper care of the invaluable artworks, some of which may also travel to exhibitions.

The development of the method to assess the health of the canvases was carried out in unique collaboration between researchers and conservators at the UCL (University College London) Centre for Sustainable Heritage, University of Barcelona's Department of Conservation, University of Ljubljana, University of London's Birkbeck College, and The British Library.

The research is part of Marta Oriola's (University of Barcelona) PhD Thesis on condition assessment of painting canvases. She said: "The method finally gives conservators the possibility to non-invasively evaluate the brittleness of a canvas, this was previously impossible. Also, we can now quickly assess what fibres the canvas is made of, which is important when designing a conservation treatment."

Dr Matija Strlic, Senior Lecturer from UCL's Centre for Sustainable Heritage, who has been supervising the method's development said: "In galleries and museums, one would usually wish to see a painting from the front. Well, not in the case of this research, where we have shown that looking at the back of a painting is not as surreal as it seems."

He added: "As in medical diagnostics, only close interdisciplinary collaboration between curators, conservators and researchers can lead to truly useful development. The non-invasive canvas health check can now improve the standard of management and care in any gallery or museum."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London - UCL. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Oriola, A. Možir, P. Garside, G. Campo, A. Nualart Torroja, I. Civil, M. Odlyha, M. Cassar, M. Strlic. Looking beneath Dalí’s paint: non-destructive canvas analysis. Analytical Methods, 2013

Cite This Page:

University College London - UCL. "Dali gets a health check: Using medical devices to diagnose art." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912131844.htm>.
University College London - UCL. (2013, September 12). Dali gets a health check: Using medical devices to diagnose art. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912131844.htm
University College London - UCL. "Dali gets a health check: Using medical devices to diagnose art." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912131844.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) — The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins