IPERION CHIntegrated Platform for the European Research Infrastructure ON Cultural Heritage


A team from the National Research Council has investigated one of the most important works of Jackson Pollock, Alchemy, painted in 1947 by the revolutionary technique of dripping.

In 2013 the MoLab-CNR – Mobile laboratory for non-invasive investigations on the works of art – made up of Institute of Molecular Sciences and Technologies (ISTM-CNR), National Institute of Optics (INO-CNR) and the Centre SMAArt of Perugia –  has carried out a campaign related to  the works of Pollock exhibited in the Guggenheim through spectrum-analytical techniques, along with a special  investigation of “Alchemy” through the relief morphology with microprofilometry laser from the back of the canvas.”

Costanza Miliani, coordinator for MoLab-Cnr, says the they detected fifteen different types of pigments, such as ultramarine, blue and green ftalo, sulpho-selenides of cadmium, viridian, zinc white and titanium and an alkyd resin, product for industrial painting, used for the first time by Pollock for its higher polymerization rate than traditional binders oil generally used by artists. About the state of preservation, the painting had deposits of atmospheric dust and compounds induced by the chemical degradation of some of the original components, while the canvas shows deformations induced by the load of the pictorial material.
The results of the restoration are shown in the exhibition ‘Alchemy. Journey into the matter ‘, open until 6 April in Venice, at the Guggenheim Collection whose masterpiece is part.
The video – produced by the web TV of the National Research Council – is integral element of the exhibition and proposes the most important phases of the conservation project dedicated to Alchemy. The documentary incorporates fragments of an interview to Peggy Guggenheim, in which the patron and collector explains how she discovered the talent of Pollock, along with historical photos, images documenting investigations of MoLab in Venice and restoration at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence.