Art as Evidence: The technical study and scientific examination of works of art at the Getty
What does a scientist do in a museum? The scientific study of works of art addresses questions related to conservation (material identification, degradation processes, compatibility of treatment methods), curatorial (artist's technique, workshop practice, attribution/provenance), or material (physical properties and behavior) issues. Answering these questions frequently requires detailed analyses of cultural heritage materials and the reconstruction of historic technologies. The precious nature of works of art creates unique analytical challenges, often necessitating the development of new analytical approaches or specialized instrumentation. A premium is placed on those techniques that either can be used completely non-invasively (i.e., without the removal of any sample, such as X-ray fluorescence and Raman spectroscopies), or can provide new and vital information with the removal of only minimal amounts of material (such as trace analysis via inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) or chemical state information via X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy (XANES)). Underlying all the work is the common goal of furthering the understanding of the materials and methods used in the creation, interpretation and conservation of works of art.
This talk will present examples of research focused on objects in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, ranging from Egyptian mummies, to medieval manuscripts, to Italian gilded panel paintings, to 19th century French drawings, to paintings by Rembrandt.
Karen Trentelman is a senior scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) where she leads the Technical Studies research group. Current areas of research include: the application of non-invasive spectroscopic and imaging technologies to the study of paintings and illuminated manuscripts, reverse engineering ancient and historic artistic technologies, and the elucidation of pigment degradation pathways. She is also active in the education and training of scientists and conservators in the application of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to the study of works of art, having organized bi-annual workshops since 2002. She received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cornell University and carried out postdoctoral research at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, Chicago. She was a research scientist at the Detroit Institute of Arts before joining the Getty in 2004.
The schedule for the evening will be as follows:
Reception: 6 to 6:30 p.m.
Lecture: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Zoom Networking : 7:30 to 8 p.m.
SVACS Zoom Meetings
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