Copperhead Bite-X, ROCI Chile, 85.033. Image courtesy of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

This preventive research project will evaluate if the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s (RRF) method for photographing highly reflective artworks, specifically Copperhead metal paintings, can be adapted for conservation photodocumentation. Baseline documentation is also needed to evaluate if the varnish coatings, metal substrate, and/or tarnish layers are changing (e.g. discoloration as a result of oxidation), and to track conditions pre- and post travel (e.g. fingerprints, scratches). 

To evaluate the photography setup, mockups will be made of metal paintings on a copper alloy substrates. The mockups will be photographed with the aid of Jim Scheck, Photographer at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Overall and detail images will be taken so that conditions can be compared to photographic records. Depending on the results, the setup will be modified until conditions are accurately captured. The process may be repeated to evaluate the effectiveness of capturing conditions using raking light, specular light, and ultraviolet-induced visible light (UV).

A report detailing findings and recommendations will be produced at the conclusion of the research project. The photography setup identified as most accurately capturing the condition of the mockups will be attempted on site at the RRF in Summer 2019. 

Natalya Swanson