Course Instructor: Jennifer Logan
Art doesn't last forever. The Mona Lisa's smile will fade and the Sistine Chapel will crumble. Oxidation, acidification, light, and accidental damage: these are enemies of art. What can we do to stop this deterioration? If damage has already happened, how can we restore a painting? Should we even try? Or will such changes irretrievably change what the artist intended? Answering such questions requires us to know what materials were used in a painting. But how can you sample a painting without further damaging it? If all you have to analyze is a tiny grain of paint, is that enough? In this first year seminar, we will examine these questions, blending chemistry with art, history, and philosophy. We'll also spend some time in the lab, learning such skills as how to sample cross-sections with a scalpel, make paint with an egg, and manipulate a fluorescent microscope. Students with an interest in either art or chemistry (but not necessarily any background) are strongly encouraged to enroll.