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Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events

  Conservation Corner Back

Inherent Vice

by Rebecca Pavitt
Conservator, Pacific Conservators
Vancouver, BC
September 2001 - October 2001

Conservator's Corner - Inherent Vice (2001), Before Treatment

Those darned artists! Always using weird materials in strange ways. This is, of course, nothing new. The Last Supper was in need of conservation just a few years after it was finished, and has been causing trouble ever since. We call this inbuilt tendency to self destruct "inherent vice".

This article is about a more recent artistic experiment, Michael Markham's "Brand Study 27" completed in 1976. Scorched paper stencils are attached to a paper support with an unknown adhesive, and covered with Mylar plastic. The Mylar is covered with a black Letraset grid, and the edges are held in place with masking tape. When this piece came into my lab in 1999, all of the adhesives had, to some degree, failed. Stencils had slipped out of place, the masking tape was detaching and the plastic grid was barely holding on to the Mylar. Yikes!

Conservator's Corner - Inherent Vice (2001), After Treatment

Reattachment of the masking tape and Letraset using stable adhesives was reasonably straight forward - this is the kind of fussy work conservators love. Trying to decide where the detached stencils were supposed to go was, however, definitely a detective challenge! I did speak to the artist, but could not locate a "before damage" photograph of the artwork. Fortunately, most of the scorching was done in situ, so I could usually match the stencil parts to the burnt shadows on the underlying paper support. All of adhesives used to repair the artwork are reversible, so the stencil positions can be changed if need be. There are two morals for artists in this story: make well educated choices about the materials you use, and always include a photograph of your artwork with the invoice.

Previous Issue: Saturated Problems: A Water-Damaged Painting
Next issue:
Fire, smoke and water damaged painting

© Rebecca Pavitt

 Fri, Feb 1, 2008