Science in Art: The Chemistry of Art Materials and Conservation - Trinity CollegeedX
What you'll learn on the course
How do artists create visual effects? In order to create an artistic impression, artists select materials that allow image formation, and that lend color, emphasis, shape, and size to the object created. A scientist might follow up by asking, why those materials? What characteristics do they have that allow them to embody the artist’s intent? How durable are they? Will they maintain the same qualities, both physical and aesthetic, they had when the work left the studio? Conservation science further notes that all materials deteriorate over time, and then asks a follow-up question: What physical interventions are possible to maintain, preserve and protect the work as the artist intended? Whatever is done to the art object, the result must be to make the work recognizable as the artist’s work or the result is a failure. That is a key goal of this course: to understand, from a chemical point of view, how conservation protocols and the material aspects of an art work allow a better appreciation of an artwork and its creation, as well as confidence that it is the artist’s work. These are not new problems. According to Leonardo da Vinci, the study of art should include the following topics: A knowledge of materials The chemistry of colors The mathematics of composition The laws of perspective The illusions of chiaroscuro As the briefest study of Leonardo's life shows, he was clearly ahead of his time in wanting to understand the reasons for a vast array of natural and artificial phenomena. Even so, a thorough understanding of those subjects listed above still escapes us today – but, progress has been made and that progress is at once the subject matter and the goal of this course. Course banner painting: Unknown (previously attributed to Vincent van Gogh), Poppies, c.1886-c.1887, oil on canvas, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Bequest of Anne Parrish Titzell, 1957.617
Henry DePhillips Professor Henry DePhillips is a chemist who has worked in the field of conservation science for over twenty-five years both as a member of art conservation teams and privately on works from art galleries, museums and privately owned collections. His specialty is both the qualitative and quantitative analysis of materials taken from objects for the purpose of conservation, preservation and authentication. He has worked on easel paintings, bronze and marble sculpture, metallic and ceramic objects, wood and fiber materials. He has taught at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and at Trinity’s Rome Campus. He holds a B.S. from Fordham University and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.