Scenario 2 – Change of Colors in Paintings and Works on Paper

The second scenario faces the problem of colour change in paintings and works on paper. As example, paintings from the Munch Museum Collection, such as The Scream (1910?) (Woll.M.896) and the Old Man in Warnemünde (Woll.M.491), display color change (fading or darkening) and need special attention for long term preservation.

For instance, the fading of areas with cadmium yellow visible in The Scream has been studied and proven as due to the interaction of the paint with high moisture and/or light in combination with chlorine compounds. The darkening of some areas of The Old Man in Warnemünde is still under study but some recent findings point out the possible formation of soaps and their interactions with environmental factors. On the other side, the reconstruction of how these changing colours would have been originally perceived is crucial, since their appearance strongly influences our perception of the artworks.

Which colours are mainly subject to change over time? How have they been applied by the artist? What does it mean for a contemporary observer perceive these colours and their change? The semantic of these paintings as originally conceived by artists or as they may evolve overtime would need to be better communicated to the public, letting them experience in new embodied ways, when at the museum or remotely.

These are the questions that Perceive aims to answer. Moreover, there is a need also for curators and researchers to use “Predictive Systems” that could simulate colour changes back and forth. These systems could be of high interest also for the citizens, who, while playing the role of scientists, could at the same time perceive the digital reconstruction as more authentic, and, ultimately, developing a sense of care for these collections. How an interactive experience could be designed in this direction requires a better understanding of the concepts of Care and Authenticity of these fragile art objects.

Four case studies have been selected:  

THE SCREAM (Munch Museum)

  • [case study 1] The Scream 1910? (painting on cardboard) from MUNCH museum  
  • [case study 2] The Scream 1895 (hand-coloured print on paper) from MUNCH museum  
  • ROAD IN PROVENCE (Art Institute Chicago)

  • [case study 3] Road in Provence, watercolours on paper by Cezanne from Art Institute of Chicago (Associated partner).  

  • [case study 4] Frescoes from the Isis Complex in Pompeii