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As the first phase of the Eames House Conservation Project draws to a close, join Kyle Normandin, associate principal with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates and former GCI project manager; Lucia Dewey Atwood, director of the Eames Foundation's 250 Year Project; and Frank Escher of Escher GuneWardena Architecture, project architects for the phase one work, as they illuminate the critical role that science and investigation play in conservation.

They will discuss studies and conservation work completed at the Eames House to date—including analysis and treatment on tallowwood paneling, initial repairs to the building envelope, paint analysis, and investigation and replacement of the vinyl tile floor covering—as well as plans for the next phase of the project. Susan Macdonald, head of Field Projects at the GCI, will moderate the discussion.

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Thursday, 02 October 2014 12:16

The Ludwig Museum Celebrates Pop Art

“Popular, mass produced, expendable, cheap, witty, sexy, playful, conspicuous, seductive”- according to Richard Hamilton these are the characteristics that make something interesting and that he also demanded of his own artistic work. What the British artist formulated in 1957 as a new standard was considered scandalous at the time. A rejection of the prevailing art and its sublime values originality, authenticity, and “depth.” Pop Art was a liberation for some-and a trivial affront for others.

The exhibition "Ludwig Goes Pop" offers an opportunity to explore this phenomenon and to comprehend Pop Art as an expression of a modern attitude toward life. In the 1960s the “everyday” had arrived—it had made its way into art: in all manner of play, from humorously ironic to biting and critical, artists explored the Zeitgeist in their art, integrated fragments and quotes from the world of consumerism and advertising, comics, science, technology, erotic, and mass media.

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As part of a yearlong celebration of Italian culture hosted by Italy’s foreign minister, Michelangelo’s (1475-1564) iconic work, David-Apollo, will be go on view today at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata unveiled the sculpture yesterday, December 12. David-Apollo will be on view in the West Building’s Italian galleries through March 3, 2013.

Michelangelo carved David-Apollo in 1530 for Baccio Valori, who served as the interim governor of Florence per the Medici pope Clement VII’s appointment. Michelangelo and the pope were at political odds, but the artist wished to make peace with the Medici through his work. Michelangelo never finished David-Apollo as he left Italy and never returned after Clement VII’s death.

Part of the Museo Nazionale del Barello’s collection in Florence, David-Apollo traveled to the National Gallery once before in 1949. The masterpiece’s installation in Washington over sixty years ago coincided with former president Harry Truman’s inaugural reception and attracted more than 791,000 visitors. In 2013, David-Apollo’s presentation will coincide with President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The Year of Italian Culture, launched by Sant’Agata under the auspices of the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, will bring a range of Italian masterpieces to nearly 70 cultural institutions across the United States. Works range from classical and Renaissance to baroque and contemporary and cover the realms of art, music, theater, cinema, literature, science, design, fashion, and cuisine.    

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When Vincent van Gogh painted Flowers in a Blue Vase in 1887 in Paris, he chose a bright, cheery yellow for the flowers. As years passed, the vivid hue faded to a dull orange-gray and scientists have just found out that a coat of protective varnish is to blame.

After van Gogh’s death in 1890, the varnish was applied to preserve the work, a common practice at the time. However, when the paint mixed with the varnish, a chemical reaction occurred causing the colors to change.

Something seemed awry back in 2009 when Margje Leeuwestein, painting conservator at the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands, attempted a conversation treatment on the piece. An unusual gray crust containing cadmium yellow paint formed on the surface, signaling that they were dealing with more than just aging varnish which is known to darken over time.

 As the painting had become increasingly brittle, experts at the Kröller-Müller Museum carefully took two microscopic paint samples from the original work and used X-ray beams to determine the chemical composition and structure where the paint and varnish met. A lead-sulfate compound, the result of photo-oxidation that separates cadmium and sulfate ions from that particular paint, was revealed. The researchers deduced that the negatively charged sulfate ions hooked up with the lead ions in the varnish to form anglesite, an opaque lead-sulfate compound that caused the color to transform.

 By keeping the painting in lower light conditions and using more advanced varnish, the deterioration should be halted. The surprising findings will be chronicled in the upcoming issue of the scholarly journal, Analytical Chemistry.

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