The innovative REVIGO project (REassessing VIncent van GOgh) is dedicated to researching the colours Van Gogh used and how they have changed over time.
‘Paintings fade like flowers’, Vincent van Gogh once wrote, and it is true that the appearance of many of his paintings and drawings has altered significantly due to colour degradation. The innovative REVIGO project (REassessing VIncent van GOgh) is dedicated to researching the colours Van Gogh used and how they have changed over time. REVIGO is also working on techniques to help us better understand the discolouration process.
We use both traditional and modern analysis methods in our research, including advanced image analysis and machine-learning techniques drawn from the field of information technology and artificial intelligence. The goal is to simulate the original colours of art works and the process of discolouration.
New way of looking
We expect the results of this work to offer a new way of looking at Van Gogh’s use of colour. They will also provide an important point of reference in the conservation and presentation of his works. Although the focus is obviously on Vincent van Gogh’s paintings and drawings, the findings will also be useful for other late nineteenth-century works of art created using the same materials.
In 2017 REVIGO was finished. The results are remarkable. Analysis revealed that Van Gogh’s pen and ink drawings originally displayed greater colour and contrast.
REVIGO is a collaborative project between researchers from the Van Gogh Museum, Tilburg University, Delft University of Technology, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Rochester Institute for Technology in New York. Additionally, researchers from AkzoNobel share their knowledge on colour and discolouration. The project will run for four years and is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the Science4arts programme.