Plastic matters: an analytical procedure to evaluate the degradability of contemporary works of art
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- Lazzari, M., Ledo-Suárez, A., López, T. et al. Anal Bioanal Chem (2011) 399: 2939. doi:10.1007/s00216-011-4664-5
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The most significant results concerning a chemical study to evaluate the degradability of polymeric components in four contemporary works of art, partially or completely realized in plastics, are presented and discussed in this paper. The procedure applied is mainly based on the use of Fourier transform IR and UV–vis spectroscopies and pyrolysis–gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, and consists of the following steps: (1) compositional analysis of the artworks, with particular attention to components which may have a negative effect on the overall ageing; (2) evaluation of the actual state of conservation; (3) investigation of the accelerated ageing of reference polymer samples; and (4) monitoring of the natural ageing of the artworks. On such a basis, the following could be concluded. Stage Evidence by Loris Cecchini is made of poly(ether urethane) elastomer which contains a high amount of phthalates. Their exudation gives a sticky appearance to the artwork and their removal during ageing is the main cause of the loss of flexibility. The latex used by Andrés Pinal for tailoring Traxe de Home is a natural polyisoprene, whose oxidative degradation accounts for the extensive deterioration and yellowing of the artwork. The plaster sculptures of 3D Bodyscans 1:9 by Karin Sander are coated with an aliphatic epoxy resin. Its oxidation with formation of amides is the cause of the surface yellowing. The adhesive used by Dario Villalba for Tierra, Ladrillo y Agua is a commercial poly(vinyl acetate). Simulated photoageing suggests a fast deterioration due to deacetylation and cross-linking, which possibly is the main reason for the actual detachment of debris from the support.