PhD research: Hans Hofmann's Last Lesson: A Study of the Artist's Materials During the Last Decade of His Career (Dawn V. Rogala)

Posted on Tue, 12/13/2016 - 19:35

Name    Dawn V. Rogala


Title of research project / research interests    “Hans Hofmann's Last Lesson: A Study of the Artist's Materials During the Last Decade of His Career” 


Type of research e.g. PhD or Postdoc   PhD, Preservation Studies


Affiliation(s)   University of Delaware (USA)


Supervisor(s)   Committee: Joyce Hill Stoner (UD, art conservation), Roberta Tarbell (UD and Rutgers University, art history), Murray Johnston (UD, chemistry), Jill Sterrett (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), Christopher Maines (National Gallery of Art, Washington).


(Estimated) date of completion    PhD received August 2014


Previous education and/or work experience    After graduation, Dawn began work as a paintings conservator at the Museum Conservation Institute, Smithsonian Institution. Her research specialties and interests include the conservation and technical study of paintings and paint materials from all periods, with a particular interest in modern and contemporary artworks. Projects to facilitate the better understanding and preservation of modern paintings in the collections of the Smithsonian and affiliated institutions. The analysis, documentation, and study of modern artists’ materials.


Abstract   Dawn Rogala’s doctoral research identified the late-career materials of Abstract Expressionist painter and teacher Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) and examined relationships among the artist’s materials, his signature painting style, and the physical and aging characteristics of his paintings. A catalogue of Hofmann’s materials was built from the analysis of over 500 paint and fiber samples focusing primarily on the last decade of the artist’s production, and a correlation found between condition issues in Hofmann’s work and a transitional mix of material and method endemic to Abstract Expressionist painting practice. This study revealed a gap in current research and preservation methodology regarding modernist painting practice, and shifts in conservation methodology for the treatment of modern paintings were suggested. The appendix accompanying the dissertation contains representative data for all analyses performed during the study (including optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and X-ray diffraction). Dawn Rogala's research will form the 2016 offering in the Getty Conservation Institute's "Artist's Materials" book series.


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