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    Photography restoration
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Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs are one of the most representative works of the Terrae Motus collection of the Royal Palace of Caserta. Dated 1983, the prints titled: Dennis Speight with thorus, Jack with crown, Skull and Crossbones, Jill Chapman, Dennis Speight with flowers, can be defined as sculptures of light. Widely exemplary of the American photographer’s style, he was himself a member of that group of artists which included some of the most eminent figures on the international scene of the time, close to the well-known Neapolitan gallery owner Lucio Amelio. The restoration, carried out at the Royal Palace of Caserta by Sandra Maria Petrillo’s SMP Photo Conservation Studio, (a professional with decades of experience in the conservation and restoration of historical photographic works) involved among the various interventions, the use of disinfection techniques both of the supports and of the photographic emulsion layer of the prints, whose integrity has been partially compromised by microbial attacks. In particular for the Skull and Crossbones, the most damaged of the five, the disinfection intervention was carried out through the use of a “solvent chamber”. At the end of the intervention, the photographs were reconditioned to be re-exhibited together with the other works of Terrae Motus. This restoration constituted an important moment of reflection and study on the methodologies to be used in the conservation and planned maintenance of photographic assets.

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