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Vincent van Gogh, "Sunflowers" (1889) Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Vincent van Gogh, "Sunflowers" (1889) Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This Van Gogh Flower Painting May Soon Be Restored (But Should It Be?)

Vincent van Gogh, "Sunflowers" (1889) Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Vincent van Gogh, "Sunflowers" (1889) Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

To ensure that important works of art are around for future generations, conservators are sometimes tasked with figuring out how to turn back the clock. When handled by professionals, restoration can significantly extend the life of rare and priceless artifacts (though sometimes the process doesn't go as planned, and there are unfortunate results). The Art Newspaper reports that one of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, Sunflowers (1889), has been taken off display at The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to be conserved and possibly restored to bring its colors closer to their original brilliance.

The conservators are deciding whether it would be safe to remove a coating of varnish from the painting's surface that was likely added in 1927, more than three decades after the painting's completion. Because of its age, the varnish has developed a brownish tint; according to The Art Newspaper , the yellow pigments used by Van Gogh have also deteriorated "due to a photochemical reaction that takes place when chrome yellows are exposed to light."

Art restoration has been referred to as a balance between art and science, but it's still a controversial field that not everyone believes is necessary. In 1985, Yuriko Saito wrote an article in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism that explored the desire to restore art and considered arguments from both sides: restoring “aesthetic appeal” versus sacrificing legitimacy with new paint and materials applied by someone who is not the original artist. Conservators at other institutions have been experimenting with noninvasive alternatives for restoring art, including the Harvard Art Museum's use of digital projection technology to restore Mark Rothko murals that date back to the 1960s.

According to The Art Newspaper, Sunflowers will go back on display on March 24, after which conservators will use what they learned during their investigation to decide whether the restoration will move forward.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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