Michelangelo Foundation - Newsletter, May 2019 - View online

Open Care Photo by Laila Pozzo © Michelangelo Foundation

Did you realise that laser scanners are used to ‘diagnose’ the issues involved in a damaged or decayed piece of art? Or that cleaning a painting might be done using a scalpel under a microscope? Or that contemporary artworks might be restored in a very different way to antique pieces? Here we shine a light on the hidden heroes of the art world – the conservation masters working to meticulously restore and conserve precious pieces of art with such skill that their work goes unseen.

Open Care © Carlo Valsecchi


Restoring contemporary artworks is very different to conserving older pieces. For centuries, artists used a set range of materials and techniques, but in the 20th century many artists started using unconventional materials, meaning conservators had to change their practices too. Artworks made from leaves, lead, plastic, bread – even human blood! – all degrade in different ways and present unique challenges for restorers.

Open Care © Andrea Chisesi


Want to discover more about restoring contemporary art? The new book Art Work, edited by Isabella Villafranca Soissons, director of the conservation department at Open Care in Milan, was launched at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris in May. The book reflects on the complex issues and unique challenges involved in this artisanal profession, presenting the viewpoints of those involved.

Photo by Lola Moser © Michelangelo Foundation


At a conference to launch the book those viewpoints were represented by: Elisabetta Galasso, CEO of Open Care; contemporary artist Marc Couturier; Grazia Quaroni, director of collections at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain; Giuliana Setari, art collector and owner of the Dena Foundation; and Alberto Cavalli, co-executive director of the Michelangelo Foundation. Together they discussed the complexities of the profession: how involved should a living artist be in the restoration of his works?; how can the restorer respect the artist’s original vision?; what are the unique challenges of restoring very different materials?; what legal and ethical issues are involved?

Supported by the Michelangelo Foundation, the English edition of Art Work is available to buy now. Or pick up the original Italian version, In Opera, supported by the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte, here.

Photo by Emanuele Zamponi © Michelangelo Foundation


Together with sister organisation Factum Foundation, Factum Arte combines traditional craftsmanship with innovative digital processes to document and digitally reconstruct some of the world’s greatest artistic treasures. For example, using a non-contact colour scanning system with integrated LED lights, Factum Arte was able to digitally record Veronese’s Wedding at Cana, housed in the Louvre in Paris, and create an exact facsimile to be hung in the painting’s original location, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice. Find out more


© Andrea Chisesi


The only company in Italy offering integrated services for the conversation, management and valorisation of artworks. Its restoration workshops can handle artworks of any kind, technique and period.

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Photo by Emanuele Zamponi © Michelangelo Foundation


An expert in the restoration of gilded wood, French gilder Dominique restores gilded objects from the 17th to 19th century, as well as gilding contemporary works.

Photo by Susanna Pozzoli © Michelangelo Foundation


This Venetian wood carver has many decades of experience in restoring wooden objects, furniture and sculptures of any age, using period materials and natural products to recreate their original splendour.

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© Jacques Pépion


Renowned for cabinetmaking, this Paris-based Master of Art not only creates his own unique works to the highest standards but also restores furniture with a team of expert artisans.

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Get up close to craftsmanship this month
with these forthcoming events

23-26 May

Paris, France


Discover this important exhibition of contemporary craftsmanship and creativity at the Grand Palais in the French capital, which includes another chance to see Doppia Firma

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31 May-21 July

Barcelona, Spain

Surface Matters

Catch this touring exhibition of new and innovative works by artists in the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Portfolio: Critical Selection 2019-20 at the Artesania Catalunya – CCAM.

12-19 June

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Design Week

The 14th edition of this event provides another opportunity to discover the creativity, innovation and talent within the design scene of this Catalan city.

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