External Seminar

Interdisciplinarity at work restoring paintings by Pierre Soulages

Conférence room+ Zoom 

Thursday, October 19, 2023, 2pm, CEMES (coffee served at 1.30pm)

by Pauline Hélou de la Grandière: PhD student at Cy-Paris University, and independent heritage restorer.

and Mathieu Thoury: researcher on the Ancient Materials platform at IPANEMA, CNRS/MCC

Like other works by the Second School of Paris, certain paintings by Pierre Soulages (dated 1959 and 1960) show unusual signs of deterioration, consisting of cleavage, softening of the binders, whitening or discolouration of the surface and drips oozing from the impasto.

This observation gave rise to the “NOIRŒS” project, for Nouveaux Outils Interdisciplinaires pour la Restauration des œuvres de Soulages (New Interdisciplinary Tools for the Restoration of Soulages’ Works), a doctorate from the Ecole Universitaire de Recherche Humanités, Création et Patrimoine at Cergy Paris University (2020-2023), presented by Pauline Hélou-de La Grandière, directed by Thierry Sarmant (CY Cergy Paris University), and co-supervised by Mathieu Thoury (IPANEMA) and Lionel Simonot (University of Poitiers).

The doctorate focuses on the most emblematic period for this degradation, between 1959 and 1960: it includes a historical study of the painter’s technique, a comparative study of the state of conservation of the works and the restoration of a number of emblematic works, as well as a study of the optical properties of the works, since their modification has a major impact on the artistic rendering desired by the painter.

This approach called for interdisciplinary developments to explore the material’s history, its physical and chemical characteristics, and the possibilities for stabilising it in conservation and restoration.

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