Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Art Conservation, M.A., C.A.S.


Art Conservation Department


Fiona T. Beckett

Department Home page

First Reader

Jiuan Jiuan Chen

Second Reader

Aaron Shugar

Third Reader

Rebecca Ploeger


Pour une aliénation définitive du logos (96.5 cm × 195.6 cm, Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Acc.1971:7), painted in 1955 by French artist Georges Mathieu (1921-2012) is an iconic example of Lyrical Abstraction. Mathieu launched this European counterpart to Abstract Expressionism in the post-war upheaval of 1947. His unorthodox methods present a unique combination of aesthetic concerns and intrinsic material instability. Mathieu’s technique involved squeezing oil paints out-of-the-tube directly onto his canvas with rapid and spontaneous calligraphic motions. The primary condition issue for Pour une aliénation définitive du logos was the failing adhesion between this thickly applied paint and the primed canvas support which resulted in extreme lifting and loss. Mathieu’s out-of-the-tube impasto, floating composition, and the large scale of the painting amplified this deterioration.

This paper discusses previous treatments and research of Mathieu’s paintings and presents imaging techniques and scientific analysis that were used to characterize the materials to help establish a suitable course of treatment, while considering the ethical dialogue surrounding appropriate levels of intervention. Analysis included: multi-modal imaging with a modified UV-VIS-IR DSLR camera, photogrammetry, transmitted light photography with high-dynamic-range stacking, transmission Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. The treatment consisted of a restrained cleaning, a novel approach to consolidation, compensation, and the installation of a new secondary support structure. Securing the delicate painting to a new stretcher was accomplished with a custom-made external hammock and carved backing board to accommodate the topography of the reverse.

The issues encountered in this project speak to the broad scope of challenges in conserving modern oil paintings and more particularly the specific challenges of so-called “Montparnasse Disease” suffered by a group of works from the Post-War School of Paris. Imaging and analysis of Pour une aliénation définitive du logos uncovered valuable information about the artist’s materials and technique and the treatment stabilized the painting’s fragile structure. The conserved painting now more accurately represents Mathieu’s unrestrained style and artistic voice in a new era of globalism and extreme change.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 03, 2025