Lightening up on art-friendly bulbs

  • Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Incandescent light bulb lovers will have to look beyond Van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” for ammunition in their war with LED bulbs.

For a while, online reports claimed that Van Gogh’s 1889 painting by that name in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was darkening because of its exposure to LED lighting. Some of the bright yellow paint was turning green and brown.

Scientists at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, however, found otherwise. The culprit was the paint itself.

ARTnews reported that the paint in question was chrome yellow, which, when exposed to light, darkened. The lighter the shade, the more quickly it darkened because of its higher sulfur content.

As far as researchers know, the darkening might have happened with LED lighting, incandescent or fluorescent. Maybe even the sun.

Still, the debate has curators on alert.

Ella Hendriks, senior conservator at the Van Gogh Museum, said the museum staff will “certainly take this information on board” when they make a final decision on lighting.

Meanwhile, in this country, the clock is ticking on incandescent bulbs due to the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act signed by President George W. Bush — except in South Carolina, where Summerville-based Aamsco Lighting Group has begun manufacturing legal incandescent lights in its Mullins plant.

One way or another, Americans will be using less energy.

And, who knows, maybe art museum curators will be Aamsco’s best customers.

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