Picasso museum room, Antibes

Picasso museum room, Antibes

Thanks to everyone for attending the international symposium From Can to Canvas: a unanimously recognized success! 120 delegates of all nationalities gathered around the issues of making, aging, conservation and meanings associated with the use of oleoresinous house-paints by major artists of the beginning of the 20th century such as Picasso, Picabia, Kandinsky, Nolan, Séraphine Louis, Le Corbusier and the Italian futurists.

Brochures from the historic paint collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

Brochures from the historic paint collection
of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The two days in Marseille have highlighted intersections between the approaches of art historians, architect, conservators of modern and contemporary art, industry representative and cultural heritage scientists from major European, American and Australian institutions.

Participants welcomed the balanced mix of papers and posters in the program. Indeed, the principal themes discussed have shown the influence of those new media on artistic process, their impact on conservation strategy and the specificities of the analytical means employed to study them. The contribution of the industrial world, represented by the Allios paint Company, has been crucial to sheld light on the history of paints making, the optimization of paint formulas and the attractiveness of decorative paints for various markets and end users beyond artistic circles.

The second day of the symposium has been centered on the use of these paints by artists that were contemporary to Picasso and their compatibility of use on all supports. The deterioration phenomena characteristic of these paints have been identified by conservators and described in several papers. The analytical protocols of identification of markers for this type of paint have been developed for its unambiguous identification as well as for the evaluation of degradation phenomena associated with the use of these paints. Some alternative analytical methods less frequently encountered in the cultural heritage field have also been addressed and particularly developed during the posters session.

The discussion of the round tables have focused on the needs expressed during the previous two days in terms of documentation (scientific, conservation, artist's), of research on treatments and on the need for collaborations between scientists working on cultural heritage, art historians, conservators and the industrial world.

If studies of Ripolin® brand house paint and its use by Pablo Picasso have received special attention, thanks to the special study day in Antibes on May 27 devoted to the presentation of the research carried on by the CICRP, the AIC and the MOLAB on the collections of the Picasso museum and published for the occasion in the book Picasso Express, discussions have also developed the artistic and sociological context of the introduction of these paints in 1912 in the pictorial process of Picasso and their adoption by other artists, the possible avenues for detailed scientific analysis and resources to delve deeply into these issues, and the modalities of production of these industrial paints.

These discussions have thus shown the growing interest in this new field of research and the necessity of interdisciplinary collaborations between art historians, scientists, conservators but also historians, industrial representatives and artists to understand the various reasons of this use: aesthetics, to affect a creative break, influences by a sociological background... All these tracks have shown the significant work of nomenclature still to be done - and the correspondence between languages - to name and define these "industrial", "decorative" paints, according to their chemical composition, their value of use or their aesthetic finish. Furthermore, even if the conference for the first time highlighted the state of the art of this fascinating topic and the giant leap forward made in recent years as far as knowledge base is concerned, it also demonstrated that much research still needs to be done.

A special issue of the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (JAIC) will gather the articles focused on these matters and will be in print around the end of 2012 :

The symposium From Can to Canvas is supported by Bruker Elemental, with the assistance of the Archives Municipales de la Ville de Marseille and the help of the Délégation Générale à la Langue Française et aux Langues de France (Ministère de la Culture).

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Updated on 4 July 2011.

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