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NBC 4 in New York Investigative Report on a Picasso analyzed by the Center for Art Materials Analysis

Forensic materials analysis performed at the Center for Art Materials Analysis Inc. plays a key role in the investigation of a found Picasso piece. Pigments, paper fibers and surface medium were sampled to see if this could be a Picasso work.

Picasso Print



About Us

The analysis of artwork at the Center for Art Materials Analysis is accomplished using a variety of techniques, sampling strategies and analytical instruments dependent on the goal of the analysis and the type of artwork being examined. The analyses include the use of polarized light microscopy for examining the size, shape and color of pigments; Fourier Transform Infrared (FT- IR) microscopy for identification of paint media an pigments; Raman microscopy for pigment identification, and scanning electron microscopy for determining the size and elemental composition of pigments. Other techniques that are utilized include X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy for the identification of elements present in a small area of a painting or object; X-Ray imaging to determine what underlying layers of paint can reveal, Microspectroscopy using visible light looking at pigment colors; carbon 14 age dating for organic materials; neutron activation analysis for high sensitivity elemental analysis, and forms of chromatography to aid in the separation of materials.

The Center for Art Materials was founded and is operated by Kenneth J. Smith PhD, an Analytical Chemist with over twenty years of materials analysis and consulting experience. Dr. Smith received his Bachelors degree in Chemistry from Bradley University, in Peoria, Illinois in 1987, and his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1992. His materials analysis and consulting experience involved the use of FTIR microscopy, Raman microscopy, UV/VIS spectroscopy, gas and liquid chromatography, ion chromatography, and optical and electron microscopy. Dr. Smith has worked with a broad range of clients including government, industry, museums, attorneys and individuals completing over 2000 projects.




What do I need to do to get an object analyzed?

The first step in the process is to submit a photograph or photographs that show the object that you are interested in having analyzed.  Based on the photographs a proposal will be prepared so you will understand the expected costs, how the sampling will be accomplished, and what will be delivered when the project is finished.

Will the report include an appraisal of the value?

The Center for Art Materials Analysis Inc. does not perform appraisals of any artwork.  Additionally we are not art dealers so we do not have the means to aid you with the sale of an item.

Can you tell me how old my object is?

The analysis of materials of an object is typically performed as part of the authentication process.  The identity of materials can be compared to the known information about an object to determine if the materials are consistent with the believed creation date of an object or the period of an artist’s career.  There are techniques that are used to date an object such as radiocarbon dating (C14), thermoluminescence and infrared spectroscopy of wood.  In the proposals where they may be appropriate, these techniques can be discussed in the scope of the analysis.  This do require collaborative analysis with scientists that the Center for Art Materials Analysis works with for this specific testing.

How much does an analysis cost?

Each analysis is different and the complexity of an object determines the amount of time required to work through the materials present, identify the materials and then determine the chronological significance of the material and how they are related to what is known for the material, the artist, a period or a geographical region.  The range in project costs for the analysis is often between $500 and $5000, but the cost may exceed this range depending on factors such as hours required for completion of analysis, travel, research, outside lab work and materials.