International workshop The practice of Robert Delaunay and his contemporaries 4 and 5 april 2024

International Workshop : The pratice of Robert Delaunay and his contempories


Lieu : Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris. Petite salle de conférence – Forum level -1

The painting of the early 20th c. saw the emergence of numerous pictorial currents in opposition to the classical schools and academic conventions of the previous century. The normative framework of the 18-19th c. was gradually abandoned, and painters could give free rein to their creativity and imagination. This was a period of innovation: buyers of modern art were looking for novelty, the image of a world in constant renewal. Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) is considered a pioneer avant-garde artist, whose artistic approach is characterised by the constant search for a new balance between form and colour, inspired by modern theories of geometry and colour (such as those of Michel-Eugène Chevreul).

Contrary to what one might think, the materiality of modern paintings is in many ways as complex as that of much older artworks. Indeed, contemporary painting practice has also been characterised by an unpredictability of the artistic gesture and a strong heterogeneity of the materials used. The transition from the studio to individual practice in Europe and America led to a profound renewal of techniques. This development is supported by numerous new commercial products, which appeared with the important developments in synthetic chemistry since the end of the 19th c. New compounds allowed to work on the spot, opened up new colour palettes, new textures and new materials… and many unknowns as to their fate in terms of conservation. Today, many collections of modern art around the world face intense problems of degradation: chemical mechanisms are active in the paint layers, sometimes threatening the optical and physical integrity of the works of art, without sufficient attention having been paid to these periods. The case of Delaunay is revealing: despite the importance of his art, very little was known about the materials he used.

This international workshop, structured around guest lectures given by international specialists with complementary expertise, aims at providing to the public a cross-fertilisation of views (chemists, art historians, restorers, etc.), to collectively provide a better vision of the problematic of the painting practice of Delaunay and his contemporaries.

Special focus will be placed on research axes bearing on:

– Modern artistic materials and their implementation in paintworks: recent research aimed at deciphering their origin (identification within artworks, markers of the different ways of synthesizing and processing pigments, identification of suppliers…) and use (revealing artistic gestures, preparation by artists of their own paint formulations…).

– Evolution of modern paintings over time and challenges for their conservation: New chemical insights on the alteration mechanisms active in modern paint layer, as well as current trends in restoration procedures implemented within modern art collections at international level.

– The historical context of modern paintings production. Investigations aimed at following the use of pigments according to early 20th c. color theories. The question of the interactions between modern painters such as Delaunay and their contemporaries will also be discussed.

Speakers : Lora Angelova, Sara Carboni Marri, Francesca Casadio, Marine Cotte,Claire Betelu, Sophie Goetzmann, Victor Gonzalez, Tom Learner and Emeline Pouyet.

Scientific committee

  • Loïc Bertrand
  • Stéphanie Elarbi
  • Mica Gherghescu

Local organization committee

  • Loïc Bertrand
  • Laure Cazals
  • Lauren Dalecky
  • Mica Gherghescu
  • Victor Gonzalez
  • Céline Jégat
  • Juliette Ollivier

 More informations : here


This event is offered free of charge. However, it is limited to 150 participants.

Important: the event will be fully on-site at the Centre Pompidou, it will not be possible to attend online, there will be no online broadcasting of the conferences!

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