External Project: Formation of micro-eruptions on the surface of oil paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe (2015-2016)

Cossairt UV RTI

Partner: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe

In collaboration with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, NU-ACCESS is investigating soap formation on oil paintings produced by Georgia O’Keeffe. Our research aims are twofold: 1) to identify the chemical nature of the soaps and the conditions that led to their formation and 2) to develop a protocol allowing mapping and monitoring of the micro-eruptions. Using samples of the soaps, their chemistry will be characterized to better understand the factors contributing to their development. At the same time, non-invasive imaging techniques (namely, novel reflectance transformation imaging protocols) will be used to detect, map and monitor the micro-eruptions and their evolution over time. Five representative paintings with different types of grounds and visually distinct types of micro-eruptions were selected for careful examination. We expect this study to provide us with a better understanding of soap formations in Georgia O’Keeffe paintings and to make informed decisions regarding their conservation. In addition, this research will provide a well-defined protocol to map and monitor soaps using non-invasive imaging technologies. 

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