SANTA FE, N.M. – Chemical reactions are threatening to discolour and deform the surface of Georgia O’Keeffe’s famously vibrant paintings, and experts are hoping new digital imaging tools can help them slow the damage.
Art conservationists in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Chicago area on Thursday announced a federally funded project to develop new 3-D imaging tools to detect destructive buildup in paintings by O’Keeffe and potentially other artists in museum collections around the world.
Dale Kronkright, art conservationist at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, says the project builds on trial efforts that started in 2011 to monitor the preservation of O’Keeffe paintings without disturbing or damaging the works.
The buildup on her art is soap. It emerges when fats in the original oil paints combine with alkaline materials contained in pigments or through drying agents.