Keeping acrylic paintings clean poses big challenges

October 19, 2011, American Chemical Society

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: Greener process for key ingredient for everything from paint to diapers

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

Related Stories

Refocusing the boom in biomarker research

July 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 ...

Focus on fats

October 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

Nano-droplets are the key to controlling membrane formation

February 19, 2019

The creation of membranes is of enormous importance in biology, but also in many chemical applications developed by humans. These membranes are shaped spontaneously when soap-like molecules in water join together. Researchers ...

LOFAR radio telescope reveals secrets of solar storms

February 19, 2019

An international team of scientists led by a researcher from Trinity College Dublin and University of Helsinki announced a major discovery on the very nature of solar storms in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Pottery reveals America's first social media networks

February 19, 2019

Long before Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and even MySpace, early Mississippian Mound cultures in America's southern Appalachian Mountains shared artistic trends and technologies across regional networks that functioned in ...

Observation of quantized heating in quantum matter

February 19, 2019

Shaking a physical system typically heats it up, in the sense that the system continuously absorbs energy. When considering a circular shaking pattern, the amount of energy that is absorbed can potentially depend on the orientation ...

Lobster's underbelly is as tough as industrial rubber

February 19, 2019

Flip a lobster on its back, and you'll see that the underside of its tail is split in segments connected by a translucent membrane that appears rather vulnerable when compared with the armor-like carapace that shields the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.