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Fluorescent paints and inks used in 20th-century artworks

Fluorescent paints and inks used in 20th-century artworks

Programme start: 2008

CICRP: Alain Colombini

Partnership(s): Fondation Vasarely, Atelier Arcay, Atelier Dernier Cri, All City

This programme draws on the systematic study of paints made from organic and fluorescent pigments/dyes used by artists in the second half of the 20th century with the aim of gaining an understanding of the deterioration mechanisms and conservation treatments of fluorescent pigments/dyes present in acrylic paint, Day-Glo paint, graffiti and contemporary screen printing.

An in-depth study of silk-screen printing works from Fondation Vasarely was carried out in consultation with the foundation’s abundant documentation, as well as the input of Vasarely friends and colleagues. Contact has been made with the Documents d’Artistes association of Marseille, based at La Friche de la Belle de Mai, with the aim of establishing connections with contemporary artists in the region with similar practices (screen printing, fluorescent colours).

In 2011–2012, under a partnership agreement with Heritage Malta, the scientific assistance and restoration of a work in acrylic paint and fluorescent aerosol by the English artist Victor Pasmore allowed the evaluation of the behaviour of this type of material in relation to various retouching procedures.

En 2012, this programme focused on gaining further knowledge of the paints used in graffiti art and their deterioration. A day of study on the topic of conservation of this type of mural paints, organised by the CICRP on 21 June, was the basis of this research, which will unite manufacturers, contemporary artists, restorers and the CICRP on the topic of material conservation of these paints.


  • COLOMBINI, A., ‘Characterization of some orange and yellow organic and fluorescent pigments by Raman spectroscopy‘, presented at the IRUG08 conference, Vienna, Austria, in 2008; e-PS, 2010, 7, 14–21.
  • COLOMBINI, A., VALAGEAS, C., ‘Characterization and degradation of fluorescent colours in works of art: preliminary studies’, FUTURE TALKS 09 symposium: The Conservation of Modern Materials in Applied Arts and Design, 22–23 October 2009, The International Design Museum, Munich; pp. 153–159.
  • COLOMBINI, A., VALAGEAS, C., ‘Degradation of fluorescent ink colours found in screen printing artworks‘, poster presented at Contemporary Art Who Cares?, Amsterdam, June 2010.