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Light for Art

muzeu onufri abiesse lighting

Light for Art

Without light, there’s no sight, and without sight there’s no insight, certainly not into works of art, be they buildings, paintings, or sculptures. From the beginning of humankind, light – scientifically “the ultimate aspect of matter moving at a known speed” – has been deified as the source of life. Thus the expressions “Divine Light” and “Spiritual Light,” in recognition of the fact that without light there is nothing sacred in life – no human spirit, no creativity.

“To illuminate art is art in itself,”  declares Targetti, producer of indoor and outdoor architectural light fixtures , and art is not only a matter of skill and technique but of sensitivity and imagination, which, as Baudelaire famously said, reaches to “the furthest depths of the soul” to “produce the sensation of newness.” What a good lighting project should do is to reach into the soul of the old artworks to make them seem new, to restore the spirit they seem to have lost with time and familiarity, which turned them into mundane material monuments.

Shadow art by Fabrizio Corneli
Shadow art by Fabrizio Corneli

Lighting plays an extremely important role in the field of art and cultural heritage. In fact, light is given the delicate job of showing off unique works and objects, preserving their integrity and intrinsic aesthetic quality. Targetti’s commitment and research in the art field goes even further, focusing on making the viewing exercise a unique and unrepeatable cultural experience. The challenges is to reveal the artworks, stir emotions, guide the eyes and feet, provide information on the interpretation and understanding of every expression of human creativity.

Medieval Art Museum - DEA Studio
Medieval Art Museum - DEA Studio

Artwork Lighting Challenges

1.Revealing
Light shows and reveals, emphasises surfaces and materials, sets the scene, raises expectations, evokes the memory of places.

2. Creating emotions
Light communicates, stirs emotions, leads to meditation and silence, places man in relation with art.

3. Orientating
Light captures the attention, orientates and stimulates our senses to fully enjoy the artistic experience.

4. Educating
Light interprets and recounts, educates on the comprehension of art and its implicit messages balancing with measure knowledge and feeling.

Medieval Art Museum - DEA Studio
Medieval Art Museum - DEA Studio

Light for art

To illuminate art is art in itself.  Light, if well designed, captures the truth of the colours, emphasises the formal aspects of the work, suggests the paths to visit and establishes hierarchies of importance in the exhibiting journey.

But light is not only what we see. A museum displays precious and delicate artefacts whose aesthetic quality can be ruined with bad lighting, as well as damaging them by discolouring the pigments, accelerating the separation of the painted layers, cracking of the paint work or yellowing of the paper. A good lighting project must also consider these aspects, uniting safety and scenic presentation.

  1. ANALYSIS OF THE MATERIALS

To plan an exhibition, permanent or temporary, means not only making it easy to enjoy the artworks, but also and above all, to conserve them. Among the many disciplines involved, lighting plays a very important role, since at stake are not only the actual characteristics of the light but also those of the materials that the light strokes, touches, or passes through.
Different materials have different properties and photosensitivity categories. Marble, metal, ceramic and glass, for example, have a very low photosensitivity and therefore are quite resistant to any type of lighting. Paint, tempera, tapestries, but also prints, books and leather have a rather high photosensitivity and must therefore be illuminated with special care through an analysis focusing on the light source, lighting values and exposure times.

2. PREVENTING PHOTO DAMAGE

Some measures can be taken to reduce the effects of photo-damage caused by the exposure to UV and IR rays. Among these is the use of light sources characterised by a spectral composition with the lowest range of UV and IR rays, or in the case of incandescent sources, optics can be used that have a dichroic coating to reduce the heat emitted on the front. Alternatively, interferential filters can be used to “cut” most of the UV rays at the price of a small variation to the colour.

3. LED FOR ART

LED technology is perhaps the best solution for today’s needs, capable of emitting practically harmless light for the conservation of artworks because it is calibrated to the visible spectrum and therefore without UV or IR rays. LEDs also have the advantage of being able to be managed by electronic systems that allow controlling its intensity and spectral composition with extreme ease.

Exhibition “Lorenzo Lotto”, Rome, Italy
Exhibition “Lorenzo Lotto”, Rome, Italy

PALAZZO VECCHIO (FLORENCE, ITALY)

As a result of a joint effort between Targetti, the City of Florence and the curators of the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio, the new lighting aims at showing the extraordinary chromatic richness of one of the undisputed masterpieces of the sixteenth century: the frescoes by Agnolo Bronzino for the chapel built by Cosimo I de’ Medici as a private place of worship for his wife, Eleonora di Toledo.

LED professional projector with mixed lights. OPTAGON is characterised by a special octagonal-shaped optic system designed and patented by Targetti. White light (in warm, cold or variable tones) is obtained by mixing LEDs with different tones of white that allow enriching and completing the spectrum to produce a perfectly even and homogenous distribution of light.

Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio

GALLERIA DELL’ACCADEMIA (FLORENCE, ITALY)

Very popular due to the presence of Michelangelo’s David, also illuminated by Targetti, the Gallery boasts the most important collection in the world of gold-ground paintings, which occupy the entire first floor of the building. The outstanding masterpieces from the 14th century offer a clear and complete vision of the Florentine artistic production from the period between Giotto and Masaccio.

Galleria dell’Accademia
Galleria dell’Accademia

Source: Art &Thinking by Targetti

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