Research team

Expertise

Geert Van der Snickt received his Master in Conservation-Restoration in 2003 at the University of Antwerp. Shortly after, he affiliated with the Department of Chemistry of the same institute. In 2012, he successfully defended a PhD thesis entitled: “James Ensor's Pigments Studied by Means of portable and synchrotron radiation-based analysis: identification, evolution and degradation” guided by professor Koen Janssens, head of the Antwerp X-ray analysis, Electrochemistry and Speciation (AXES) group. From 2014 to 2018 he held a Chair on Chemical Imaging for the Arts within the same group. In 2019, he returned to the Conservation-Restoration department by accepting a position as tenure track professor. As a cultural heritage scientist, his work focuses on synchrotron radiation-based analysis and the application of chemical imaging techniques for non-invasive characterization of paintings, art materials and their degradation products. This research is performed on a daily basis in collaboration with conservators-restorers, art historians, curators and museum staff. Experiments are performed on both Old and New Masters ranging from Van Eyck to Pollock. Recent works under study include the Ghent Altarpiece by Van Eyck, The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer, The Scream by Munch and the Sunflowers by Van Gogh.

Green Atmospheric plasma-generated monoatomic oxygen technology for contactless atomic scale cleaning of works of art/moxy (MOXY). 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2026

Abstract

Climate crisis and unsustainable development increasingly threaten Europe's tangible cultural heritage (CH), yet environmentally hazardous chemicals persist in CH conservation practice. The Sustainable Development Goals of the EU's Green Deal vision call for change in CH conservation, but cannot be implemented without effective and affordable green alternatives. Soiling and deposition of carbon-based contaminants (CBC) such as fine particulate pollution, smoke and vandalism all increasingly present formidable challenges to conservators, and are an emerging threat to CH because of the inherent vulnerability of CH surfaces created with unconventional materials and studio practices. Existing CH cleaning methods require toxic solvents, physical contact and water, which can damage many sensitive CH materials, and conservators, equipped with only conventional means, now encounter fragile and untreatable CH where soiling cannot be removed at all. MOXY aims to redefine the paradigm in cleaning methodology towards an eco-conscious approach by creating a transformative green, non-contact technology based on atomic oxygen (AO) to selectively remove CBCs from surfaces that are otherwise untreatable. AO cleaning methodology is a selective, non-mechanical and liquid-free cleaning action, without health or environmental risks, residues or waste. By leveraging a sophisticated yet simple technology, MOXY will enable practitioners to achieve unprecedented results that are green, safer and more effective. To achieve its goals, MOXY will bring together expertise from plasma physics, conservation science, sustainability science, and conservators to conduct a novel investigation of the physical and chemical aspects of AO generation and flux to develop a proof-of-concept AO system, test the viability of AO technology for diverse CH materials, and roadmap AO innovation, to propel AO technology to the bench practice in CH conservation and beyond, with its full potential yet to be realized.

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  • Research Project

Understanding the Impact of Modernism on the studio practice of Western European Painters through James Ensor's Oeuvre (1860-1949). 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

It is commonly known that the stylistic revolution in the 19th c. was promoted by the introduction of innovative artists' materials. However, the emergence of styles like Pleinairism, Impressionism, post-Impressionism, etc. required a drastic shift in technique as well; from a traditional academic buildup to free, experimental brushwork. This turn in working methods is pivotal in the field of conservation science as today, many of these innovative materials and paint handling approaches appear unstable and prone to degradation. In order to gain insight in the multitude of problems, we propose research on the oeuvre of the influential Belgian painter James Ensor (1860-1949) as his frequent stylistic and technical changes offer ample opportunities to study the impact of Modernism on painting technique. In particular, an in-depth investigation aims to provide an insight in the evolution of Ensor's material use, paint layer build-up, methods of application, finishing preferences and the overall creative process throughout his career. By contrasting transitional works in his oeuvre, we assess how style breaks are translated into studio practice changes and vice versa. This is accomplished by a comparative visual and technical examination of pairs of key paintings, combined with literature and archival study. In this way, we anticipate to expand knowledge on the impact of new modus operandi on the long term stability of the paintings.

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  • Research Project

Heritage of colors: Textile dyeing in the Low Countries (17th century): understanding historical technology and ensuing conservation issues. 01/10/2022 - 30/09/2026

Abstract

This research focuses on the historical technology used to dye textiles in the heydays of the textile production in the low countries (i.e. 16th-17th century). Being the most important industrial sector from the middle ages up to and including the first industrial revolution, the manufacture and dyeing of textiles plays a prominent role in the history of technology. Dyeing must have been crucial for any impact craftsmen had on the scientific revolution, as it involved intimate knowledge on a broad range of raw materials and chemical processes in order to obtain a wash and light-fast finished product. However, until now, literature mostly focused on the economy and trade of textiles, while the underlying technology that was necessary for its production was largely neglected. Therefore, we propose a multifaceted approach, involving human and natural sciences, that will bring to the surface ideas that are latent in strictly text based approaches. In particular, we propose expanding the knowledge on practical dyeing customs by deciphering and assessing historical recipes, followed by the reproduction of historical materials and this in order to (a) understand all aspects of the process of making and (b) study degradation parameters. The latter is done through artificial ageing and testing of the reproduced materials. Finally, the characterization (by chemical analysis) of historical well-dated textiles will allow evaluating how closely practical dyeing and recipes are aligned.

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  • Research Project

The Loss of Original Experience due to Ageing in Color Field Painting: Towards an Interdisciplinary Reconstruction of Art Method (IRECONA). 01/10/2022 - 30/09/2025

Abstract

The extent of the visual degradation in Color Field paintings, due to the ageing of (synthetic) materials has been largely overlooked. Since the relevance and meaning of Color Field paintings strongly depend on their specific visual effects, significant visual alterations often imply a loss of the original intentions of the artists. This project wants to thematise the ageing problem in art history and develop a new extensive reconstruction method to better conserve Color Field paintings. Three case studies selected from three categories (a. pigment-, b. medium- and c. carrier degradation) will be investigated through the following steps: (I) descriptive reconstruction, which consists of statements by the artist on the intended visual experiences and writings from the public about their experiences, based on literature and archival studies; (II) material analysis; (III) visual reconstruction: through the creation of hand-painted replicas and through a digital reconstruction with augmented reality; (IV) perception studies (eye-tracking and questionnaires) to examine the public's experience of the change in the artwork's appearance. Based on the data analyses, the degree of visual change will be determined and the digital reconstruction will be evaluated.

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  • Research Project

Material-technical research of historicial ex-voto's and jewels from the 'Genootschap St-Margaretha' 01/10/2022 - 30/06/2023

Abstract

The assignment consists of a restoration treatment of 91 ex-votos in silver from the Schipperskapel and 16 jewels as part of module Treatment I, Master Conservation Restoration. The assignment consists of an extensive material-technical and cultural-historical preliminary investigation, the preparation of a condition report, the preparation of a treatment proposal based on test benches to determine the correct method, the implementation of the treatment, and advice on exhibition, prevention and aftercare. The treatment will be documented in a report that will be digitally delivered to the client.

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  • Research Project

Material-technical research and conservation treatment of a sculpture by Walter Bodmer. 01/10/2022 - 30/06/2023

Abstract

A metal sculpture from the collection of the open-air Middelheim museum will come to the training where the degradation caused by exposure to an exterior climate will be investigated. Based on the preliminary investigation, a treatment proposal is drawn up, after which the treatment will also be carried out.

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  • Research Project

Belgian Carriage Interior Research Project. The scientific analyses of historical materials and techniques and historical interiors of Hippomobile heritage in de collection of KMKG-MRAH (BELCAIRE). 01/01/2022 - 31/12/2031

Abstract

The KMKG-MRAH holds an exceptional collection of about eighty carriages and sledges dating from the late 17th century until the early 20th century, including 11 coaches on loan from the Belgian Royal House. Although these objects accurately reflect the historical innovations in technology and material science of their era, hippomobile heritage remains an understudied field in heritage science. In recent years, a preliminary damage assessment of the KMKG-MRAH collection highlighted the exceptional original state of the objects, but in parallel raised concern for the poor material condition, especially of the interiors that include upholstery, shades, cushions, passementary and trimmings. As a result of the poor condition of some of these interiors, conservation students and staff of UAntwerp conducted a preliminary collection audit in 2019. This survey highlighted the complexity of preserving these mixed-material interiors, bringing instable inorganic materials (e.g., corroding metal) in close contact with sensitive organic materials such as (oiled) textile fibres, leather and early synthetic materials. As such, the goal of BELCAIRE is to develop a model for long-term preservation strategy not only targeting the KMKG-MRAH collection but applicable to all hippomobile heritage dispersed over various European museums, institutions and private collections. We therefore propose first gaining insight into the largely unknown innovative materials and craftmanship employed for the manufacture of carriages by combining the study of historical sources (patents and manuals) with a careful optical inspection and chemo-physical characterization of a selection of carriages. In the first phase/two years, BELCAIRE focuses on four case studies which are representative for various social classes: royalty (case 1: inv. nr. TR 49), nobility (case 2: inv. nr. TR 76), bourgeoisie (case 3: inv. nr. TR 4) and public transport (case 4: inv. nr. TR 69). In later years enlarging this corpus will allow finetuning and benchmarking the obtained insights. After this material study ongoing degradation phenomena are identified and listed whereas their mechanisms and urgency are further assessed through the production and artificial ageing of mock-ups. In particular, historical materials are reproduced according to recipes and exposed to various environmental conditions to quantify their individual and combined impact on the degradation mechanisms. Based on the obtained insights, a generic risk assessment model is drawn up for hippomobile heritage, guiding curators and conservators in their decision-making processes for active and passive conservation. Finally, an elaborate dissemination plan, linking with the HOME-AGE project (FED-tWIN project PRF-2020-011 granted in the previous round), targets an efficient flow to and interaction with scholars, students and the general public. In this way, BELCAIRE aims to close the knowledge gap on the conservation and preservation of hippomobile heritage and contributes to the understanding of cumulative damage caused by mixed materials and techniques in carriage interiors in particular.

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  • Research Project

SAFESILK: Understanding, preventing and treating metal salt-induced silk degradation in heritage collections. 01/01/2022 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

Although silk, due to its superior qualities, has been a high-end material since its earliest use, this biopolymer is highly prone to environmental degradation. In the 19th c., a treatment with metals salts was introduced for dyeing and increasing weight. The presence of these reactive substances in close proximity to the vulnerable base material resulted in a significant number of degrading silk objects in present-day heritage collections. As to date no conservation treatment proved effective, metal-induced silk degradation is a major concern for museums. This research aims at understanding, preventing and treating affected objects by combining the partners' expertise on chemical analysis, historical technology, collection management and conservation treatment. We propose unraveling the degradation pathways and assessing the influence of various harmful internal and external parameters. This will be done by producing self-synthetized and artificially aged equivalents of historical material, followed by their chemical characterization. The validity of the insights obtained on these 'mock-ups' will be benchmarked by analysis of a number of historical study objects. The results will be incorporated into a hands-on decision tool for the everyday collection management of a museum, via the development of a 'damage function'. Finally, the aptness of two enzyme treatments, recently developed for industry, will be evaluated for the consolidation of degrading historical silk fabrics.

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  • Research Project

Art objects conservation by non-thermal plasma generated atomic oxygen beam (PlasmArt). 01/01/2022 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

While unsustainable development increasingly threatens Europe's cultural heritage (CH) assets, museums and conservators continue searching for green approaches and materials. In the preservation of tangible CH assets, carbon-based soiling is among the most significant deteriorations factors. Pollution, vandalism, smoke and fires can cause catastrophic carbon-based contamination to tangible CH assets, and cleaning is essential for their preservation. However, currently available methods require hazardous chemicals, physical contact, and water, which can be too disruptive to many art materials. Equipped with only these methods, conservators increasingly encounter surfaces, which cannot be cleaned without unacceptable damages. PlasmArt project rises to the challenge of cleaning and preserving extremely fragile artworks for the future and will bring together plasma physics, heritage science and conservation to bring to fruition a radical green innovation - a non-contact approach, based on atomic oxygen, which will empower conservators removing soiling in non-mechanical, liquid-free action, without health or environmental concerns, residues, and waste. To achieve its transformative goals, PlasmArt will research fundamental aspects of AO, develop and test a proof-of-concept system, study interactions with ultra-sensitive art materials and roadmap AO innovation, propelling it to the emergent clean technologies in conservation and beyond, with its full potential yet to be realized.

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  • Research Project

Lead white speciation: a technical marker for dating paintings and paint layers. 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025

Abstract

Recent developments in chemical imaging can force a breakthrough in one of the long-standing, key challenges for painting conservation: the treatment of hybrid artworks, presenting heritage professionals with a puzzling amalgam of original materials and non-original layers, accumulated during various interventions. In particular, the recent introduction of Macro X-Ray Powder Diffraction imaging (MA-XRPD) in the heritage field now allows to differentiate sub-types of pigments with unprecedented chemical specificity, without the need for sampling or moving the artwork. The aptitude to identify and quantify crystal phases in artists' materials allows for the first time to reliably discriminate pigments employed by Old Masters from their industrial-age equivalents, used by the (hyper-)restorers and forgers of the 19th-20th-C. Within the artist's palette, lead white holds the highest potential to serve as a marker for signaling 'pigment anachronism' due to its omnipresence, occurring in almost all pre-WWII paint layers. In addition, preliminary MA-XRPD experiments on historical paintings indicated a clear variation in the mass ratio of the constituting compounds of lead-white: cerussite (PbCO3), hydrocerussite (2PbCO2.Pb(OH)2) and plumbonacrite (PbO.3PbCO3.Pb(OH)2). These variations were tentatively linked to the gradual improvement of production methods over time. Although the drastic switch to large-scale industrial processes at the end of the 18th-C is expected to have a fundamental impact on the chemical composition of lead white, the production processes and crystallographic composition of industrial-age lead white were never studied. As a result, the proposed discrimination of original brushwork from younger paint strokes, based on the determination of the relative crystal phase composition of lead white, is currently prevented by the lack of reliable information on industrial-age lead white compositions (1750-1940). In the context of lead white, the discovery and production of CO2 in 1750 is considered as starting date for the industrial age, whereas WWII marked the gradual replacement of lead white by titanium white. Therefore, we propose defining the chemical signature of (modern) lead white by analyzing pigment powders, accurately reproduced in a chemical lab environment according to the production processes described in historical textual sources. In this way, the chemical fingerprint of the reproduced sub-types of lead white will serve as a ground truth for the anticipated variation in historical paintings. In the next step, the representativity of this fingerprint is benchmarked by analyzing a relevant group of late 18th to early 20th-C paintings in museum collections. Next, the ability of MA-XRPD to chemically contrast industrial-age lead white from traditional lead white on actual, complex paintings will be assessed by in situ experiments on well-studied 'hyper-restorations'. Examples of the latter are 15th-C paintings with well-documented areas of excessive overpaint. In a final step, the added value of this research will be valorized during the third and last phase of the conservation treatment of Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece, which confronts conservators with a particularly convoluted, hybrid and heterogenous paint system.

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  • Research Project

Historical Materials and Techniques of the South Netherlandish Home in the MRAH-KMKG collections (HOME-AGE). 01/09/2021 - 31/08/2031

Abstract

The collection of the KMKG-MRAH holds a vast number of objects from across the globe, dating from prehistory to the 20th century. Nevertheless, from its early conceptualization in 1885, the museum's focus is to collect, preserve, study, and share the richness of applied arts from the South Netherlandish region. This focus led to a large and hybrid collection with a main body of 17th and 18th century objects tied to the history and roots of this territory. However, aside from the publication of a number of exhibition catalogues on sub-collections in the 1970's, little scientific research has been done to date. Traditionally, these few catalogues primarily focus on the art historical context of the exhibited items; leaving other scientific disciplines as well as the large number of depot-items untouched. In recent years, several pilot studies and a previous BELSPO research project in collaboration with the UAntwerp showed that the depot contains high-level objects and object-groups which are awaiting discovery and scientific study. The proposed HOME-AGE project (pronounced 'homage') aims to close the knowledge gap on this key collection; and in general, that of the applied arts from the South Netherlandish home between the contra-reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. The FED-tWIN research profile will complete and open-up the collection's context through the study of the collection's archives, the compilation of an exhaustive historiography on South Netherlandish applied arts and an in-depth material technical study of the objects. The above will generate new knowledge and research topics within the domain. The project is divided into several work packages (WP's). In WP 1 a historical and technical state-of-the-art is obtained through literature and archival research. The project foresees a synergetic collaboration with the ongoing 2019 FED-tWIN RMARCH project focusing on the FSI's archival research. Next, a corpus of objects is selected through an audit and classification (WP2). This corpus is studied on a material technical level (WP3). The acquired knowledge and new insights from the previous WP's are then contextualized and centralized in the online HOME-AGE network platform (WP4). Throughout the project, the acquired knowledge and experiences will be disseminated towards a broad audience and heritage education (WP5). The outcome is fivefold. First, the audit, historiography, and the archival study complete the information back-log of the FSI's collection. In addition, insights into the materiality and the history of conservation will allow adequate actions to be taken to safeguard the collection for future generations. Second, the transdisciplinary scientific study will generate new knowledge about the relations between the material technical history and art-history of applied arts in this culturally diverse region. Third, the synergy between the FSI and the UAntwerp will challenge, inspire, and feed the educational programmes of both partners. Fourth: the online HOME-AGE open-access platform will foster general interest and instigate, promote, and assist scholarly research of South Netherlandish applied arts and European art technical history. Fifth: This FED-tWIN aims to consolidate and stimulate the ongoing FSI/UAntwerp partnership towards the future, enhancing scientific expertise, promoting science and heritage education.

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  • Research Project

Material-based and art historical research into the oeuvre of James Ensor. 01/07/2021 - 30/06/2025

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to investigate the relation between the manner of painting of James Ensor during his different stylistical periods and the material means (pigments, binding media, substrates) he employed for this purpose.

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  • Research Project

Material technical research by means of innovative analytical imaging techniques to support ongoing and planned restorations and art historical research. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2023

Abstract

During the term of the agreement, UAntwerp will carry out the following activities in the KMSKA. Materials engineering research using innovative analytical imaging techniques to support ongoing and planned restorations. Materials technical research through innovative analytical imaging techniques to support art historical research. The execution of the assignment will take place by invitation in function of the current needs of the KMSKA. The KMSKA will consult regularly to determine which recordings are useful for the KMSKA and/or UA and who will bear the costs for these recordings. However, the KMSKA will not draw up an annual planning, but will consult regularly so that the UA can can organize.

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  • Research Project

Understanding the technological and economical history of enigmatic green copper sulfate pigments in Flemish Renaissance art. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

The beginning of the 16th century marked the start of a prosperous time for Flanders with the flourishing of culture, trade and science directly reflected into the works of art of the Antwerp School. However, the year 1500 does not only mark a period of stylistic revolution, the works of art also change from a technological point of view with Flemish painters experimenting with innovative materials and techniques, an aspect that has remained understudied hitherto. In this framework, recent analytical studies signaled the use of copper sulfates, an unknown green pigment type, that seems to witness the artist's pursuit to expand the limited range of pigments and enhance the realistic representation of nature. The aim of this research is to understand (a) the use (prevalence, technique, relation to other green pigments), (b) the provenance (where was it produced), the production method (historical technology) and (c) the trade (how and why did it come to Flanders) of these new materials. This will be done by combining the study of textual historical sources and the physical reproduction of the technology with a chemical screening of paintings and illuminated manuscripts. In this way, we propose exploiting the new vistas created by the recent introduction of chemical imaging techniques to enhance our understanding of the interplay of science, technology and trade with the bloom of Flemish Renaissance art and its stylistic innovations.

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  • Research Project

Q-INSPEX: Quantitative industrial inspection through non-invasive imaging. 15/10/2020 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

Q-INSPEX aims at the development of novel imaging and image processing protocols to non-invasively and quantitatively inspect objects and subjects. Core imaging technologies herein are X-ray, (near)-infrared, and TeraHertz imaging. These technologies are largely complementary to each other and can be used in different set-ups as (i) an R&D tool to measure specific characteristics of materials (e.g. food structures or polymers), (ii) as a quality control procedure implemented within an industrial setting (i.e. compatible with processing speeds) or (iii) in-field inspections of crops and infrastructure (e.g. corrosion). Furthermore, they can be applied in a wide variety of domains: additive manufacturing, composites, art objects, textiles, archaeology, crops, food, etc.

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  • Research Project

Depth-selective chemical imaging of Cultural Heritage Objects (DICHO). 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2023

Abstract

In spite of its ability to successfully characterize the condition and materials of paintings and other works of art in a non-invasive way, Macro X-Ray Fluorescence imaging (MA-XRF) suffers from a drawback that significantly affects its most valued application: revealing hidden features and overpainted compositions. While the penetrative properties of the primary and secondary X-rays can be used beneficially to reveal subsurface information that is crucial for art historical scholars and conservators, the extent to which a particular layer can be visualized selectively depends on the exclusive presence of an element in that layer. By consequence, layers with a similar elemental signature emerge intermixed in the same distribution image while the exact layer sequence remains unclear. As a result, in many cases, (contested) sample extraction proves mandatory in order to assign the detected elements to a specific layer within the paint stratigraphy. In order to augment chemical imaging with an additional depth-dimension, a dual approach is presented: (1) separating surface signals from deeper signals by expanding the MA-XRF detector angle geometry and exploiting the resulting, potential depth information that lies within the absorption effects on emission line ratios, by adding a level of data-processing to the existing protocol; (2) reconstructing the layer buildup and allocation of the detected signals by including an Infrared thermographic camera (IRT). In order to characterize the number of layers present and their sequence, multi-sine heat excitation will be exploited for the spectral range of 1.5-5μm in combination with dedicated post-processing of the hypercube images in the frequency domain. The proposed multimodal MA-XRF+IRT measurement methodology is developed on paint mockups and validated on historical paintings and wood panels, in collaboration with the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp.

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  • Research Project

Slovak Soil in Flemish Art: Tracing trade and technology of two leading regions in the Renaissance 21/12/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

The beginning of the 16th century marked the start of a prosperous time for Flanders with Antwerp becoming one of Europe's leading commercial and financial centres. The flourishing of culture, trade and science was directly reflected into the works of the Antwerp School, a class of highly skilled painters that initially combined the Flemish Gothic tradition with Renaissance elements. However, the year 1500 does not only mark a period of stylistic revolution, the works of art also change from a technological point of view, with Flemish painters experimenting with innovative materials and techniques, an aspect that has remained understudied. In particular, we will chemically analyse a relevant corpus of Renaissance paintings, which can be considered as tangible artefacts of technological history, in order to chemically trace a series of highly unusual copper pigments, recently reported in a few works of art. It is currently assumed that these innovative pigments were imported to Antwerp from a mining area in the current Slovak Republic through trade with the Thurzo-Fugger company. Since Jakob Fugger was the wealthiest and most influential man in the Renaissance, holding a quasi-monopoly on European copper trade, this hypothesis seems viable. Nevertheless historical research is needed to substantiate this theory. In this project, we propose employing the state-of-the-art, chemical imaging instrumentation that was recently developed by the University of Antwerp (Department of Chemistry, AXES group) to reveal the use of these 'experimental' copper materials that give evidence of the vanguard spirit of Antwerp Renaissance painters. The AXES group is a pioneer in chemical imaging on works of art, as illustrated by the development of a mobile MA-XRF scanner that allows non-invasive and in situ chemical analysis directly on to the paintings, in a museum gallery. In this way extraction of a sample or transport of fragile works of art to a laboratory is no longer necessary. Moreover, the fact that complex chemical information is translated into a set of straightforward images that can be easily interpreted by all stakeholders in the heritage field (and the general public) makes this scanner a true catalyst for multi-disciplinary research. Notable example of this added value was the vital contribution of MA-XRF scanning to the ongoing conservation treatment of Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece. Earlier this year (2018), the group introduced a MA-XRPD scanner during a high-profile, international research campaign of Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring. This innovative instrument works in a similar way as the previous MA-XRF scanner, but goes yet another step further in the chemical characterisation of paint materials. For the first time, it is possible to visualize in situ, ongoing degradation processes (causing e.g. discoloration) and to differentiate various types of crystal structures inside pigments. It is this latter property that we propose exploiting in order to trace the aforementioned copper sulphates. In summary: thanks to new instrumentation, it is possible, for the first time, to distinguish these unusual pigments from traditional copper pigments. We want to consolidate our technical head start by being the first to document these innovative materials that were first used by Flemish artists. The goal of this project is tracing back the original mines, chemically characterise its ores and reproduce the pigments. Next, we link the produced chemical fingerprint of these copper ores to the materials found inside historical paintings, both of local Slovak and Antwerp production. Finally, we investigate Antwerp's historical trade route with Central Europe, and the role of the Fugger company by means of historical research. By reconstructing and evidencing this historical know-how, we anticipate illustrating Antwerp and Flanders' central role in European trade, art production and technology, both in the past and today.

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  • Research Project

When Art Turned DayGlo, Marking the Impact of Daylight Fluorescent Materials in New York Art from the 60s and 70s. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

This research focusses on art containing daylight fluorescent colors, created in New York during the 60's and 70's. This topic has practically been completely neglected in the art historical literature, leaving the impact which fluorescence had on the history of art and art criticism, undetermined. My earlier historical and material-technical analyses of the use of fluorescent colors by Herb Aach and Frank Stella will be the starting point. These will be expanded and further elaborated. I will then consider New York artists who were active in the same period, such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Fred Sandback and Keith Sonnier. In order to discuss the selection of works, a new language must be developed that allows adequate description of the experience and the effects caused by fluorescent colors. This language will be developed through the means of archival research, analysis of art historical literature, material-technical enquiry and henomenological investigation. At this stage, a provisory taxonomy of fluorescent phenomena in art will be at hand, which will be expanded and revised through experiments in perceptual psychology and subsequently integrated in the new language. This will enable a correct assessment of the of the considered works. On the basis of this, the place and the role of fluorescence in the oeuvre of the artists will be considered, along with a reevaluation of the art criticism of the 60's and 70's.

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  • Research Project

Non-invasive MACRO-XRF scanning of three paintings by Peter Paul Rubens. 07/06/2018 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to examine three different paintings of the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens by non invasive XRF Scanning that are in the collection of the Kunsthistorische Museum Wien.

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    • Research Project

    When Art Turned Day-Glo, Marking the Impact of Daylight Fluorescent Materials in New York Art from the 60's and 70's. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2018

    Abstract

    This research focusses on art containing daylight fluorescent colors, created in New York during the 60's and 70's. This topic has practically been completely neglected in the art historical literature, leaving the impact which fluorescence had on the history of art and art criticism, undetermined. My earlier historical and material-technical analyses of the use of fluorescent colors by Herb Aach and Frank Stella will be the starting point. These will be expanded and further elaborated. I will then consider New York artists who were active in the same period, such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Fred Sandback and Keith Sonnier. In order to discuss the selection of works, a new language must be developed that allows adequate description of the experience and the effects caused by fluorescent colors. This language will be developed through the means of archival research, analysis of art historical literature, material-technical enquiry and phenomenological investigation. At this stage, a provisory taxonomy of fluorescent phenomena in art will be at hand, which will be expanded and revised through experiments in perceptual psychology and subsequently integrated in the new language. This will enable a correct assessment of the of the considered works. On the basis of this, the place and the role of fluorescence in the oeuvre of the artists will be considered, along with a reevaluation of the art criticism of the 60's and 70's.

    Researcher(s)

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      Project type(s)

      • Research Project