Modern Paints Uncovered

Symposium Papers

Modern Paints Uncovered: Proceedings from the Modern Paints Uncovered Symposium, May 16-19, 2006, Tate Modern, London

Edited by Thomas J. S. Learner, Patricia Smithen, Jay W. Krueger, and Michael R. Schilling


330 pages

PDF file size: 72.7 MB


Over the past seventy years, a staggering array of new pigments and binders has been developed and used in the production of paint, and twentieth-century artists readily applied these materials to their canvases. Paints intended for houses, boats, cars, and other industrial applications frequently turn up in modern art collections, posing new challenges for paintings conservators. This volume presents the papers and posters from “Modern Paints Uncovered,” a symposium organized by the Getty Conservation Institute, Tate, and the National Gallery of Art and held at Tate Modern, London, in May 2006. Professionals from around the world shared the results of research on paints that have been available to artists since 1930—the date that synthetic materials began to significantly impact the paint industry. Modern Paints Uncovered showcases the varied strands of cutting-edge research into the conservation of contemporary painted surfaces. These include paint properties and surface characteristics, analysis and identification, aging behavior, and safe and effective conservation techniques.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword, Earl A. Powell III, Nicholas Serota, and Timothy P. Whalen
  • Acknowledgments
  • PART ONE Keynote Presentations
    • Modern Paints: Uncovering the Choices, Thomas J. S. Learner
    • Overview of Developments in the Paint Industry since 1930, Stuart Croll
    • Modern Paints, Conservation of, James Coddington
  • PART TWO Paint Formulations and History
    • “Eternity Is in Love with the Productions of Time”: Joaquim Rodrigo’s Classical Palette in a Vinyl Synthetic Medium, Joana Lia Ferreira, Maria Joao Melo, Ana Maria Ramos, and Maria Jesus Avila
    • The Performance and Properties of Artisan Water Mixable Oil Color Compared with Other Oil-Based Paints by Winsor & Newton, Alun Foster
    • From Formulation to Finished Product: Causes and Potential Cures for Conservation Concerns in Acrylic Emulsion Paints, James Hayes, Mark Golden, and Gregory D. Smith
    • Adapting Military Camouflage Paint for Matte Outdoor Sculpture, Abigail Mack, Shelley Sturman, and John A. Escarsega
    • “Cover the Earth”: A History of the Manufacture of Household Gloss Paints in Britain and the United States from the 1920s to the 1950s, Harriet Standeven
  • PART THREE Analysis and Characterization
    • Mass Spectrometry of Modern Paints, Jaap J. Boon, Frank G. Hoogland, and Jerre van der Horst
    • The Macro- and Microassessment of Physical and Aging Properties in Modern Paints, Oscar Chiantore and Dominique Scalarone
    • The Identification of Synthetic Organic Pigments by FTIR and DTMS, Suzanne Quillen Lomax, Michael R. Schilling, and Thomas J. S. Learner
    • Modern White Pigments: Their Identification by Means of Noninvasive Ultraviolet, Visible, and Infrared Fiber Optic Reflectance Spectroscopy, Marcello Picollo, Mauro Bacci, Donata Magrini, Bruno Radicati, Giorgio Trumpy, Masahiko Tsukada, and Diane Kunzelman
    • Studies of Modern Oil-Based Artists’ Paint Media by Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, Michael R. Schilling, Joy Mazurek, and Thomas J. S. Learner
  • PART FOUR Treatments
    • Unforgiving Surfaces: Treatment of Cracks in Contemporary Paintings, Mary H. Gridley and Dana Cranmer
    • Restoring the Immaterial: Study and Treatment of Yves Klein’s Blue Monochrome (IKB 42), Christa Haiml
    • The Re-restoration of Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1965, Narayan Khandekar, Eleonora Nagy, Julian Miller, Pia Gottschaller, and Carol Mancusi-Ungaro
    • A History of the Treatment of Acrylic Painting, Patricia Smithen
  • PART FIVE Cleaning Issues
    • An Investigation of Water-Sensitive Oil Paints in Twentieth-Century Paintings, Aviva Burnstock, Klaas Jan van den Berg, Suzan de Groot, and Louise Wijnberg
    • Wet-Cleaning Acrylic Emulsion Paint Films: An Evaluation of Physical, Chemical, and Optical Changes, Bronwyn A. Ormsby, Thomas J. S. Learner, Gary Foster, James R. Druzik, and Michael R. Schilling
    • Morphological Changes and Rates of Leaching of Water-Soluble Material from Artists’ Acrylic Paint Films during Aqueous Immersions, Rebecca Ploeger, Alison Murray, Simon Hesp and Dominique Scalarone
    • Laser Cleaning of a Study Painting by Ad Reinhardt and the Analysis/Assessment of the Surface After Treatment, Carol Stringari, Christopher W. McGlinchey, Kristalia Melessanaki, Sjoerd Postma, and Corey D’Augustine
    • Penetration of Liquid Water through Waterborne Acrylic Coatings, Paul M. Whitmore, Hannah R. Morris, and Val G. Colaluca
  • PART SIX Behavior and Properties
    • Factors Affecting the Mechanical Properties of Modern Paints, Eric Hagan, Maria Charalambides, Thomas J. S. Learner, Alison Murray and Christina Young
    • Aging Characteristics of a Contemporary Acrylic Emulsion Used in Artists’ Paints, Gregory D. Smith
    • Interfacial Interactions of Modern Paint Layers, Christina Young
    • Solvent Action on Dispersion Paint Systems and the Influence on the Morphology-Changes and Destruction of the Latex Microstructure, Stefan Zumbühl, Francesca Attanasio, Nadim Scherrer, Wolfgang Müller, Nicolai Fenners, and Walter Caseri
  • PART SEVEN Posters
    • The Effects of Ultraviolet Light Aging on the Mechanical and Physical Properties of Artists’ Acrylic Paints, Judith Bannerman
    • Art in Bad Times, Eva Brachert
    • Cleaning The Cafe Balzac Mural, Anne Carter
    • The Identification of Some of the Painting Materials at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea all’Aperto di Maglione, Oscar Chiantore, Rebecca Ploeger, and Antonio Rava
    • The Complexities of Woman in a Courtyard by Julian Trevelyan (1910-1988), Maureen Cross
    • Study of the Influence of Synthetic Organic Pigments on the Thermal and Photodegradation of Linseed Oil by FTIR/ATR Spectroscopy, Julio M. del Hoyo-Meléndez and María Teresa Doménech-Carbó
    • What Makes the Color Field? A Technical Examination of Magna Paint, Glenn Gates, Tatiana Ausema, and Susan Lake
    • Modern Standards for Modern Paints: The Activities of ASTM D01.57, Mark Gottsegen and Ross Merrill
    • Analyzing Visual Change in a Painting by Josef Albers, James Hamm, Gregory D. Smith, and Aniko Bezúr
    • A Painter’s Paradise, Sarah Hillary and Thomas J. S. Learner
    • Liquefying Oil Paint in some Late-Twentieth-Century Paintings, Frank G. Hoogland, Jerre van der Horst, and Jaap J. Boon
    • Dictated by Media: Conservation and Technical Analysis of a 1938 Joan Miró Canvas Painting, Ashley M. Johnson, Elma O’Donoghue, and Marc S. Walton
    • Paints and Coatings Used in Outdoor Murals, Jessica Keister, Joyce Hill Stoner, and Joseph Weber
    • Squeeze Up Close, Kathrin Kinseher
    • A Simple Solution to a Complex Problem: The Consolidation of Joan Miró’s Portrait of a Young Girl, Christina Milton O’Connell
    • Conservation Treatment of Ultramarine Oil Paint on Michael Craig-Martin’s Full Life, Julia Nagle and Miguel d’Almeida
    • Eugène Leroy’s Painting: A Moving Matter, Grazia Nicosia
    • Tate AXA Modern Paints Project: Evaluating the Effects of Cleaning Acrylic Paintings, Bronwyn Ormsby, Thomas J. S. Learner, Patricia Smithen, and Thomas Wessel
    • Alterations in Unvarnished Contemporary Paint in Spain: A Visual Approach, Maria Teresa Pastor Valls and Maria del Carmen Pérez García
    • Julião Sarmento, a Portuguese Artist at Work: Study of Just a Skin Affair (1988), Ana Isabel Pereira, Stephan Schäfer, and Maria João Melo
    • Fluor-S-Art, Northern Lites, Day-Glo: Daylight Fluorescent Pigments: Their Development, Use, and Performance, Sarah Eleni Pinchi and Jia-sun Tsang
    • RPM!-Rescue Public Murals, William Shank and Timothy Drescher
    • The Art Materials Collection and Study Center, Michael Skalka
    • Materials, Techniques, and Artist’s Intention in the Geometric Works of José María Yturralde, Ioseba I. Soraluze Herrera and Rosario Llamas Pacheco
    • Problems with the Cleaning of Textured Modern Paintings, Iwona Szmelter, Andrzej Koss, Jan Marczak, and Marek Strzelec
  • Symposium Participatns
  • Author Biographies

About the Authors

Thomas J. S. Learner is a senior scientist for contemporary art research at the Getty Conservation Institute and a former senior conservation scientist at Tate.

Patricia Smithen is a conservator of modern and contemporary paintings at Tate.

Jay W. Krueger is a senior conservator of modern paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

Michael R. Schilling is a senior scientist and head of analytical technologies at the Getty Conservation Institute.