Restoring Matisse's 'Joy of Life'

March 30 2011

Image of Restoring Matisse's 'Joy of Life'

Picture: The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.

Following the recent analysis of Van Gogh's faded sunflowers, scientists are now examining a 1906 work by Matisse, The Joy of Life.

Like Van Gogh, Matisse used a range of bright yellow pigments invented in the industrial revolution. These are now slowly fading, but by a combination of conservation and the right lighting levels it is hoped the process can be checked. 

Once the painting is in its own gallery in Philadelphia, the museum may use lights of a specific wavelength to minimize further oxidation [said Jennifer Mass, the scientist leading the project]. In the future, some chemical treatments might be considered to reverse the color changes, but that would be considered an invasive treatment and would be undertaken only with extreme care, she said.

"I think Matisse is not getting a fair deal at the moment," Mass said. "What art historians are looking at is not his original vision."

More here.

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