Picasso at the Nanoscale: Investigating the Chemistry of Iconic Paints
Researchers from the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and scientists from The Art Institute of Chicago have teamed up to study the chemical make up of zinc oxide pigments used in artworks by Pablo Picasso. In his talk, Volker Rose will describe how highly focused X-ray beams with nanoscale spatial resolution and trace element sensitivity have helped to determine that Picasso has used conventional house paint in some of his paintings. The study gives also new insights into the material zinc oxide, which has great potential in a variety of applications such as in spintronics or as transparent electrodes in solar panels.
His lecture takes place during the session "Reconstructing and Deconstructing Paintings: Innovations At and Below the Surface."
A deep connection to our past and shared cultural heritage must be preserved to foster a balanced society where all humanity can thrive. Moderated by a museum leader, this symposium presents cross-disciplinary and international perspectives on the scientific study of paintings from all ages. It will describe analysis of paint materials used by Pablo Picasso at the nanoscale, as only possible at the brightest synchrotron sources. It will highlight how new imaging techniques can reveal the invisible, bringing to light underlying compositions of old masters’ paintings. This in turn enables the writing of new art history and provides important material clues that can assist with attribution and authentication.
This symposium will also demonstrate how scientific analysis and cutting-edge computer science can lead to innovative approaches to touchless virtual restoration and to the inspiring public presentation of a contemporary art masterpiece by Mark Rothko, literally turning back the hand of time. Researchers from museums, academia, and large facilities will explain how the use of new technology can lead to new discoveries, which, in turn, can change the public’s and the specialists’ perception of great works of art.