Micro-structural characterisation of non-easel painted artworks

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Artist paint is one of the most heterogeneous materials encountered in museum conservation. While many scientific studies have been carried out on European easel paintings, less work has focused on other painted artworks, as well as works from other geographic regions. This thesis compiles results from four technical analysis projects on different types of non-easel painted artworks at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), applying micro-analytical techniques, including FTIR microscopy, Raman microscopy, SEM-EDS, micro-XRF, XRD, Py-GC/MS, GC/MS and MFT. The painted artworks include 20th century ethnographic collections from the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, inked prints from the “Poem series” by Japanese artist Haku Maki, Robert Indiana’s painted aluminum outdoor sculptures, and Gustave Baumann’s home-made paint on paper. These works have not been previously investigated scientifically, and each presents specific museum curatorial and conservation concerns such as technical art history, lightfastness, paint degradation and treatment considerations. A range of natural and synthetic pigments, paint binders and deterioration products were characterized, contributing to the technical art history and understanding of paint degradation that informs conservation practices.
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