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French Scientists Crack Secrets Of 'Mona Lisa'

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Danielle Holly
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« on: July 17, 2010, 07:42:22 pm »

French Scientists Crack Secrets Of 'Mona Lisa'

ANGELA DOLAND | 07/16/10 09:38 PM | AP



PARIS The enigmatic smile remains a mystery, but French scientists say they have cracked a few secrets of the "Mona Lisa." French researchers studied seven of the Louvre Museum's Leonardo da Vinci paintings, including the "Mona Lisa," to analyze the master's use of successive ultrathin layers of paint and glaze - a technique that gave his works their dreamy quality.

Specialists from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France found that da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety. Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers, or about half the thickness of a human hair, researcher Philippe Walter said Friday.

The technique, called "sfumato," allowed da Vinci to give outlines and contours a hazy quality and create an illusion of depth and shadow. His use of the technique is well-known, but scientific study on it has been limited because tests often required samples from the paintings.

The French researchers used a noninvasive technique called X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to study the paint layers and their chemical composition.

They brought their specially developed high-tech tool into the museum when it was closed and studied the portraits' faces, which are emblematic of sfumato. The project was developed in collaboration with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble.

The tool is so precise that "now we can find out the mix of pigments used by the artist for each coat of paint," Walter told The Associated Press. "And that's very, very important for understanding the technique."

The analysis of the various paintings also shows da Vinci was constantly trying out new methods, Walter said. In the "Mona Lisa," da Vinci used manganese oxide in his shadings. In others, he used copper. Often he used glazes, but not always.

The results were published Wednesday in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a chemistry journal.

Tradition holds that the "Mona Lisa" is a painting of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo, and that da Vinci started painting it in 1503. Giorgio Vasari, a 16th-century painter and biographer of da Vinci and other artists, wrote that the perfectionist da Vinci worked on it for four years.
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Danielle Holly
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2010, 07:43:44 pm »



The famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting is seen on display in the Grande Galerie of the Louvre museum in Paris, France.
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Danielle Holly
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2010, 07:45:27 pm »


lesleypalmer   57 minutes ago (4:42 PM)
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"...Specialists from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France found that da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety..."

In today's world, where marketing and "managers" interfere in the art production process, and computers are used to "speed up" the creative process, there is no subtlety. Artists, hamstrung by deadlines, are as subtle as a two by four across the head.

I've been looking at the evolution of digital art and it is moribund. Tricks and noise substitute for craft and vision. I recently went to a digital illustration seminar, and the artwork didn't look any different from that presented 20 years ago. In addition, "speed painting" is now all the rage. It is discouraging. A da Vinci today wouldn't stand a chance.
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Danielle Holly
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2010, 07:45:49 pm »


lesleypalmer   36 minutes ago (5:03 PM)
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http://www.cgsociety.org/

This organization is featured at SIGGRAPH. U.S. Digital art is dominated by gamers, entertainment artists, and fantasy artists. Like animation, digital art is captive to mimic "reality" or is floating around in the science fiction mindset.

http://www.smashingshare.com/2010/05/27/showcase-of-20-amazing-digital-illustrations/

The best ideas come from Europe, as they are not yet captive to the money machine.
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Danielle Holly
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2010, 07:46:26 pm »

It all depends on what you call art. Most digital art is commercial - made to satisfy people other than the creator for profit (to earn an acceptable standard of living). There are plenty of artists and art movements that do more or less "pure" art (digital or otherwise):
http://juxtapoz.com/Gallery-Guide/gallery-guide-index
http://www.ilikethisblog.net/
http://dada.compart-bremen.de/artworks
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