A survey of acrylic sheet in Portuguese art collections
Keywords:acrylic, poly(methyl methacrylate), collections survey, condition survey, plastics conservation, contemporary art
Acrylic sheet, also known by the commercial names Plexiglas or Perspex, consists of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). Attractive to artists since its development in the 1930s, it became especially
popular during the 1960s. In Portugal, knowledge about its use by artists and its condition is scarce. In this work, the main Portuguese art collections were surveyed with the goal of gaining an overview of the use of acrylic sheet in the Portuguese art context and its current condition. The paper describes the methodology used and the results obtained regarding 137
artworks by 69 different artists registered as containing acrylic. Results show that this material
is being used by Portuguese artists at least since the 1960s. It has been used in several artistic
forms, from painting and sculpture to photography, installation, objects/reliefs, and artist books. Most of the artworks were in good or fair condition. The main problems observed were dust and dirt deposits, abrasion, and scratches.
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