InterCommunication No.15 1996

Feature


IMAGES BEYOND BOUNDARIES

Diffusion of such findings to the greater public via electronic publications or networks has been a priority since the 1989 launching of NARCISSE (Network of Art Research Computer Image SystemS in Europe). The Direction des Mus仔s de France and its European partners realized that visual data generated by museum collections can only promote in-depth exchange between nations and cultures if images are elucidated by text, qualitatively on a par with the visual material. Multilingualism was thus laid down as an early goal, and an illustrated glossary of key-words, built up by a team of international experts, features in the first "Art and Science" CD-ROM of a fast-growing collection of electronic publications [*4]. This guarantees that nomadic images are appropriately termed, and that items can be meaningfully designated and discussed by persons from different countries (the initial target being fifteen languages).

The first monographic CD-ROM devoted to Nicolas Poussin and published on the fourth centenary of his birth (1594) made excellent use of VHPS magnification possibilities. In this edition, techniques including ultraviolet and infrared images, stratigraphic sections and X-rays were used for comprehensive analysis of 40 works, and clearly bore out Poussin's mastery of detail: minute patches of the picture field withhold amazingly complex features such as vivid reflections and finely wrought background elements. Similarly, the CD-ROM on Limousin Enamel Work in the Middle Ages, a joint project currently underway between the Louvre D姿artement des Objets d'Art and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, dramatically magnifies intricately fashioned enamel figurines. Painterly detail as opposed to sheer brush technique is obviously of greater interest in Poussin's opus than in that of Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, and the forthcoming CD-ROM on the nineteenth century painter will focus on other analytical methods including laser interferometry to indicate relative thicknesses of paint strata, endowing Corot's pre-impressionist canvases with a "signature" in relief. The subsequent issue on Picasso will doubtless exhume with brio the LRMF's awesome collection of Picasso radiographies.


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