Reintegration of a missing fragment in the painting Catrame by A. Burri

In collaboration with Francesca Salari, Accademia di Belle Arti Aldo Galli, Como

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As this research deals explicitly with the painting's relief, Lucida Lab Milano was asked to collaborate with Salari to carry out a high-resolution 3D scan of the surface of the painting, in order for Salari to analyse Catrame´s relief in detail to eventually digitally, and restore the work to its original state.

Catrame is a 45 x 55 cm oil and tar on canvas by Alberto Burri belonging to Bergamo’s Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. The piece was conceived in 1950 and its age, coupled with its materials, made its conservation challenging. In time, the painting’s surface changed causing parts of the painting to slough away from their original positions on the canvas, damaging many of the qualities essential to the understanding of the artwork and it’s relief. Inspired by this, researcher Francesca Salari has started searching for new conservation techniques that could appeal to more delicate artworks.

Lucida 3D Scanner recording Burri’s Catrame at Bergamo’s GAMeC

A. Burri, Catrame, 45 x 55 cm, 1950

Shaded render of the relief recorded with the Lucida 3D scanner

Detail of the spoilt patch

Following the recording, the spoilt patches were digitally reconstructed using advanced 3D modeling software, using the neighbouring droplets as visual references. The restoration consisted of filling in the empty areas with the appropriate relief in order to then restore it to how it was before. The new digitally restored model was then CNC milled in high resolution, both in positive and negative reliefs, so that in future it will be possible make moulds of them. Though this is work in progress, the intention of the project is to explore the possibilities of creating a removable fragment that can be put in place in an impermanent way, while preserving the original painting’s state.

The main reason for the Lucida Lab Milano is to promote the incorporation of digital 3D scanning into conservation protocols, as part of an integrated approach involving new technologies in contemporary practice. Documentation and digital restoration are only two of the new possibilities that are opening for the field of conservation thanks to the Lucida 3D Scanner.

Routed samples of the digitally restored fragment (positive and negative relief)

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