From Florence, a gel to support restorers
A gel that efficiently removes residues of adhesive tapes used for the conservation of artworks and revolutionizes the restoration techniques of artistic heritage has been recently designed by a team of researchers from the Department of Chemistry of the University of Florence coordinated by Piero Baglioni.
“Adhesive tapes”, said Baglioni, “have been used for temporary conservation interventions, but their removal may damage the artworks”.
An article published in PNAS reports that this new product, developed by UNIFI in collaboraton with restorer Antonio Mirabile, consists of drops of solvent in an aqueous solution gel which is deposited for a few seconds on drawings and works of art to remove adhesive tapes and dirt without damaging the works of art.
To test the product, the team used the gel to remove the adhesive tape from a drawing, property of a private collector in Paris, which represents one figure from the Ascension of the Blessed in the Sistine Chapel.
“Using the gel”, said Baglioni, “we discovered the inscription ‘di mano di Michelangelo’ (by Michelangelo’s hand) on the drawing, probably made in the same period the Sistine Chapel was built and which is of uncertain attribution. With the same innovative gel, we have also managed to bring a drawing by Lucio Fontana back to its original aspect.”
“The gels, developed within the European project Nanorestart”, continued the researcher, “are particularly useful for the treatment of modern artworks, which are especially difficult to clean and preserve: we have used them successfully on works of great value, such as paintings by Picasso, Pollock and Kandinsky, from the Guggenheim Collection in Venice, and will soon be available to restorers.”