Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is Conservation and Restoration the Same Thing?

Eric Hayden French Circuns from San Juan Puerto Rico asks, "Is Conservation and Restoration the same thing? Are you a practicing conservator?

Hi Eric,
Yes, I'm a practicing conservator.

"Restoration" is more a European term. In the US, the word "restoration" is limited to only making something look good (aesthetics) again. "Conservation" is a broader term that includes the processes of stabilizing and addressing issues of deterioration and preventing the conditions that cause damage (lighting, shipping, handling, RH, UV, IR etc).

Most professional art and object conservators (in the US) look down on the term "restorer" because it refers often to someone who is not ethically and professionally committed to the task of conservation and preservation besides restoration. However, restorer is a term that the public most readily recognizes so you will see professional conservators refer to the word "restorer" only for the benefit of the ignorant public.

That was wordy but I hope it answered your question.

We think that people are interested in what we do, so in addition to this blog, we keep a couple of Facebook pages to keep people entertained: check out "Fine Art Conservation", "Tips For Art Collectors" and "Save Your Stuff."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Art Salvage of Giverney Painting - Monet's Colony

I was called by an 80ish year old lady who had inherited a closet full of paintings, all by the same artist V. Radimsky, that her Dad had bought in Paris in 1922. They had never been shown or put up on the walls. They were all on stretcher bars except one that was rolled up like a newspaper and was considered destroyed.

Since, as a professional art conservator, our ethics don't let us get into buying and selling, I was kind of caught in the middle of helping the owner connect with a buyer who bought the whole collection, even though the artist is pretty well unknown. As a thank you, the owner gave me the destroyed, rolled up painting.

The painting was dirty, paint was flaking off, deep cracking patterns distorted the whole surface...not a pretty sight. So, started by carefully consolidating the flaking by absorbing thermoplastic adhesives into the cracks. They we relaxed the cracks and distortions on the hot table and lined the picture. Once lined and stable, we were able to clean it which brought out the original colors, restored depth of field and contrast to the composition. Then we filled the paint losses, carefully and accurately inpainted and then varnish. It was put onto new stretcher bars and... voila'. Ready to go for another 100 years. Was it worth the effort. You decide.

A little about Radimsky: he went to France to be part of the painting experience surrounding Monet's colony. We assumed this painting was of Giverney as others in the collection that looked similar in technique and subject had written on the stretcher bars by the artist "Giverney." Radimski was hit and killed by a car I believe in 1921.