Keeping acrylic paintings clean poses big challenges

Oct 19, 2011

the medium made famous by artists like Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Robert Motherwell, and David Hockney —pushing 60 years of age, scientists specializing in art conservation are seeking ways to rejuvenate these paintings and keep them looking their best. That's the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine.

In the article, C&EN Senior Editor Celia Henry Arnaud explains that acrylic paints were invented in the 1940s, with the first wave of acrylic paintings in museum and private collections now between 50 and 60 years of age. They quickly became an artistic mainstay, along with the familiar oil paints that have been used for centuries. One main difference: Oil paints can take weeks or month to dry. Acrylics, which are water-based, dry fast, often in hours.

The additives that hold acrylic paints together in the liquid stage, in tubes and on artists' brushes and palates, are emerging as a problem. The additives make acrylic paints dirt-collectors, unusually sensitive to soiling over the years. C&EN describes the difficulty that conservators are having in cleaning acrylic paintings, and scientific research on the best ways of keeping acrylics looking fresh and young over the years.

Explore further: Wake up and smell the coffee ... it's why your cuppa tastes so good

More information: Cleaning Acrylics - pubs.acs.org/cen/science/89/8942sci2.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Refocusing the boom in biomarker research

Jul 27, 2011

An article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS's weekly newsmagazine, describes the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of one of the hottest pursuits in modern biomedical science — the search for "b ...

Focus on fats

Oct 12, 2011

Almost everyone knows that fats are the culprits in expanding waistlines and killer diseases, but scientific understanding of the roles of "lipids" -- fats and oils -- inside cells in the body got short shrift until launch ...

Recommended for you

Triplet threat from the sun

3 hours ago

The most obvious effects of too much sun exposure are cosmetic, like wrinkled and rough skin. Some damage, however, goes deeper—ultraviolet light can damage DNA and cause proteins in the body to break down ...

Towards controlled dislocations

Oct 20, 2014

Crystallographic defects or irregularities (known as dislocations) are often found within crystalline materials. Two main types of dislocation exist: edge and screw type. However, dislocations found in real ...

User comments : 0