Two’s arrival at the Opificio
Florence - December 2013
Pollock began working on Two in 1943, but only concluded it in 1945 on the occasion of his second solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s New York gallery, Art of This Century. The two figures visible on the canvas reveal the stylistic influence of both Picasso and Native American tribal painting. Two is one of Pollock’s last “figurative” works, which allows us to discern the cultural references that led him towards a subsequent stage of abstraction.
As part of the ‘Pollock Project,’ Two was restored by Luciano Pensabene Buemi, conservator of the Collection, with the scientific input of the laboratories at the Opificio delle Pietre, and the INO of the Istituto CNR Nazionale di Ottica in Florence. As in Alchemy’s conservation project, preliminary investigations were fundamental in devising the conservation and cleaning methods. The removal of dust and inconsistent deposits revealed how Pollock not only portrayed two figures, but how he applied colors in ‘couples:’ two whites, two greens, two blacks, two greys, dark orange-pink, each of a warmer and a cooler shade.
Restoration project with NANORESTART
Two’s cleaning employed sophisticated water based chemical systems (chemical gels) created using nanoscientific technologies. These were developed by the Consorzio universitario CSGI-Università di Firenze, as part of the European project NANORESTART (NANOmaterials for the REStoration of works of ART), funded by the European Commission. The chemical gels that were used belong to a specific category constituted by two mutually interpenetrative polymers, which are 90% made of water. They do not leave any residue on the artwork, and allow a controlled cleaning process (minimizing contact with the pictorial surface, and the color of the solvent), safe for both the artwork and the conservators, being entirely nontoxic and respectful of the environment. These systems constitute the most advanced technologies available today for the cleaning of paintings.
The rediscovery of Two’s chromatic richness, with the tonal alternations between its color couples, was on view in From Kandinsky to Pollock. The Art of the Guggenheim Collections, at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, 19 March – 24 July 2016.
R. Mastrangelo, D. Chelazzi, G. Poggi, E. Fratini, L. P. Buemi, M. L. Petruzzellis, P. Baglioni, Twin-chain polymer hydrogels based on poly(vinyl alcohol) as new advanced tool for the cleaning of modern and contemporary art, PNAS March 31, 2020 117 (13) 7011-7020.