MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Craquelure: Background information when reading Asunder

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Asunder

by Chloe Aridjis

Asunder by Chloe Aridjis X
Asunder by Chloe Aridjis
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Sep 2013, 208 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

Craquelure

This article relates to Asunder

Print Review

As Chloe Aridjis explains in Asunder, a painting too must obey the laws of physics - in that it slowly - ever so slowly - descends from "order" (the finished painting) into disorder. This "disorder" is brought about by a series of cracks in the paint or varnish that forms a network over time. This network is called craquelure (pronounced crack-lure). The cracks are formed as result of drying forces, responses to humidity and a number of other environmental factors. As time goes on, paint dries and undergoes shrinkage which, in turn, creates cracks. The pressure on these paintings is higher at the edges than it is in the center, which means cracks are more pronounced at the edges of a painting. Even the human touch can set off a series of invisible cracks.

Mona LisaSince craquelure is a function of the kind of paint used (oil, watercolor, acrylic); the medium it is painted on and the thickness of the various layers, the network of cracks is more noticeable for certain kinds than others. For example, three layers of the more viscous oil paints on canvas will yield more noticeable (and varied) patterns than say, two layers of watercolors on canvas. In Asunder, we learn about drying cracks in the "form of flames, nets, brushstrokes, spirals and grids, and ageing cracks in the form of spokes, garlands, corn ears and diagonals." Restorations of old paintings keep craquelure in mind when working on preserving the authenticity of the work.

The Comtesse de TillièresResearch has shown that the study of craquelure can help in sourcing paintings of unknown origins. In a study of a variety of paintings, clear patterns emerged in different styles. A Flemish work for example, would exhibit craquelure different from that of an Italian one. The distinct patterns are probably caused by the varying materials used and the different techniques of drying and preservation. For example, the English style uses bitumen, which creates bubbles of cracks on the surface.

Craquelure is such an essential part of a painting that art forgers try, using formaldehyde and slow drying techniques, to replicate networks of cracks on forgeries. However, these methods usually lead to uniform networks of cracks whereas the unpredictable nature of genuine craquelure is what readily distinguishes it from forgeries. Interestingly enough, craquelure is a popular touch to contemporary pieces of art such as vases, outdoor objects, and even reproductions of paintings. Manufacturers can create craquelure under controlled conditions to give the object an "authentic" and appealing look. Software programs can even create craquelure on digital images.

Examples of two different kinds of craquelure in the images above. See the typical Italian pattern of small rectangular blocks on Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, and then the typical French craquelure with larger and less regular patterns, and curving cracks on Jean-Marc Nattier's The Comtesse de Tillières.

Article by Poornima Apte

This article relates to Asunder. It first ran in the September 18, 2013 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Race Against Time
    Race Against Time
    by Jerry Mitchell
    Jerry Mitchell spent nearly three decades trailing cold cases from the Civil Rights Movement. As a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Resisters
    The Resisters
    by Gish Jen
    Gish Jen's The Resisters depicts a future United States, dubbed AutoAmerica, where climate change ...
  • Book Jacket: The Mercies
    The Mercies
    by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
    It's 1617 and a violent storm has claimed the lives of 40 fishermen off the coast of Vardø, a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree
    by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Ya Ta, the main character in Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's novel, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Mountains Sing
    by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

    An enveloping, multigenerational tale set against the backdrop of the Viet Nam War.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    And They Called It Camelot
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    An unforgettable portrait of American legend Jackie O.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien

The classic, ground-breaking meditation on war and the redemptive power of storytelling.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Mostly Dead Things

Mostly Dead Things
by Kristen Arnett

"Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart."
- BuzzFeed

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Die I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.