A new substance under the sun. How synthetic polymers were selected and transformed into works of art by Ângelo de Sousa, Julião Sarmento and Lourdes Castro

Maria João Melo, Joana Lia Ferreira, Sara Sobral Babo, Ana Isabel Pereira, Maria Elvira Callapez, María Jesús Ávila, Julião Sarmento

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

This chapter examines how two polyesters, poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and poly(vinyl acetate) (PVAc) are explored with great ingenuity and creativity by the artists Ângelo de Sousa, Julião Sarmento and Lourdes Castro. Their fascination with these novel materials is revealed in interviews, which also show how these artists selected and transformed them into works of art. The case study approach using specific examples illustrates the relations between the molecular properties of PMMA and PVAc and factors related to social and artistic choices. The outstanding optical properties of PMMA and the possibility to transform sheets of PMMA into complex three-dimensional shapes were pivotal for its selection by Lourdes Castro and Ângelo de Sousa, respectively. This chapter also analyses the artists' technical choices and the impact these choices had on the conservation of their works. The way Ângelo de Sousa and Julião Sarmento played aesthetically with vinyl emulsions will have a direct effect on the ageing of their paintings. Julião Sarmento knows that the pristine white backgrounds of his “White series” paintings will yellow over time, while Ângelo de Sousa made every effort to protect his works in PVAc from ageing, adding layers of PVAc varnish on top of the painting and selecting the most durable colourants.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScience and Art
Subtitle of host publicationThe Contemporary Painted Surface
EditorsAntonio Sgamellotti, Brunetto Brunetti, Constanza Milliani
PublisherRoyal Society of Chemistry
Chapter11
Pages225-248
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78801-638-4, 978-1-78801-976-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-78801-469-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

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