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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Sep 2013, 208 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Craquelure

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 is from the September 18, 2013 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

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

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...
  • Book Jacket: This Blessed Earth
    This Blessed Earth
    by Ted Genoways
    For the Hammonds, a farming family in Nebraska, the 2014 harvest season started with a perfect storm...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Seven Days of Us
    by Francesca Hornak

    A warm, wry debut novel about a family forced to spend a week together over the holidays.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.