Hey, remember when I built this overly engineered complex clamping table for reassembling broken panel paintings? Well if you want to see me actually use it head on over to my YouTube channel for the second part of my recent video series 😁
Most of the paintings on which I work were made by artists who are longe dead. Every now and again I receive contemporary works that need attention. Such was the case let year when I received a roll of paintings from Amoako Boafo. These works were so fresh that when they were rolled dust and dirt embedded into the paint layer. Luckily we got to them before they bonded to the paint and became permanent. It was a painstaking process to remove the dirt but it made all the difference. Little did I know that these works were the darling of Art Basel Miami and that Boafo is rocketing to international art fame 🤷♂️ . . Amoako Boafo is a painter, born in Accra, Ghana, based in Vienna, Austria. Boafo’s portrait paintings are enticing in their lucidity, accentuating the figures in each work, who are regularly isolated on single color backgrounds, their gaze the focal point of each work. The brushstrokes are thick and gestural, the contours of the body’s almost soften into abstraction. The most well known of his series, the Black Diaspora portraits serve as a means of celebration of his identity and Blackness. Boafo emphasizes, “The primary idea of my practice is representation, documenting, celebrating and showing new ways to approach blackness.” Much of his work is inspired by his upbringing, commenting on how males are raised to be aggressive and masculine, which he challenges in his works. Although the artists underlying messages are quite intense, there is a certain softness to the works as a whole, the poses are serene and the skin luminous. . . Text from marianeibrahim.com/
Upon first glance some paintings look like they will be fairly straightforward and easy to conserve yet as more time is spent with the piece the picture gets complicated. Such was the case with this painting that arrived in December of last year. Executed in oil on a wood panel that had split in many places and had been poorly conserved in the past simply re-bonding the piece back together was made more complicated by the fact that the previous interventions had send down the panel unevenly and in selective spots. In addition there were channels carved into the back, battens and blocks adhered and even a few nails and screws thrown in for good fun. So how in the world am I going to get this piece sorted out and conserved... well, head on over to YouTube to watch the first of 5 videos about this process. 😁
Not art conservation but I suppose this photo would qualify as conservation writ large...🤷♂️ when I bought my building one of the first things I wanted to do was get it outfitted with a solar array. Well, it took a long time and there were delays and those delays had delays, etc... but this week the crew from @freshcoastsolar wrapped up a beautiful install and any day now it’ll go live. This array meets 110% of my electrical needs with the surplus being sold back to the utility. It’s expandable and in the coming years I plan to switch my heating system from natural gas to an electric heat pump system and make my building totally self-sufficient and green. You know, trying to conserve the planet as well 😜
Gooooood morning! The materials or interventions that were common in the past are now often seen as failures or inappropriate but that’s a somewhat reductive perspective. Before the advent of synthetic, stable and reversible adhesives, refined animal glues such as hide glue, sturgeon glue or in this case rabbit skin glue were not only commonplace but the peak of technology. As such, their use was considered at the time totally ok. Fast forward to today and the same can’t necessarily be said as we now have far superior materials. Though it’s not pleasant and a bit messy, removing the old rabbit skin glue from the back of a canvas after the lining has been removed isn’t terribly difficult. Rabbit skin glue is hygroscopic and will absorb humidity or moisture and become swollen or soft. It can then be scraped off the canvas with a scalpel. A dulled or used scalpel is ideal as this isn’t a cutting motion and we don’t want to risk slicing the canvas. This is the first of two passes and then another treatment will be executed to draw out any remaining glue from the canvas. For the first 3 or 4 years working with my father I wasn’t allowed to do this; I just watched him. It took years for me to develop the technique to move this fast and now it’s almost automatic and.
Over time, ever so gradually varnishes can discolor and dust, dirt and oils can settle on the surface of paintings. We generally aren’t aware of this because it happens so slowly and right before our eyes. And so we come to assume that the way a painting g looks in this moment is how it has always looked because we can’t recall any sudden or drastic changes. It’s not until we see the varnish and grime removed that we realize just how far from the artist’s original vision the work has come. And once we do get a glimpse of what truly lies beneath, well... 😍 no video for this one but Monday I should have something special for you. 😉
I received this small oil on canvas board by Cliff Joseph a few weeks ago for cleaning and minor retouching (above the right eye). Nothing major but necessary nonetheless. In addition to addressing these small issues the piece will receive a new varnish and all the old masking tape that held it in the frame will be removed and replaced with proper hardware to ensure that no future damage befalls the work. . . Cliff Joseph was born in 1922 in Panama and raised in Harlem, NY. He attended Pratt Institute where he received a BFA. Joseph’s roles of artist and activist were inseparable. As a realist, Joseph believed his subject matter should convey a message and initiate reflection and discourse from the viewer. He addressed issues of politics, race, religious freedom, and sexual freedom. He walked in picket lines and he took to the easel to create artwork which spoke to these themes. Joseph co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition with Benny Andrews in January 1969. The Coalition was formed partly in response to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “HARLEM ON MY MIND” exhibit, which omitted the contributions of African-American painters and sculptors to the Harlem community. Joseph has tirelessly served his community whether it be serving in the Army during WWII, running his own greeting card company which promoted African themes, protesting for the marginalized, or as an art therapist for those in prisons or mental hospitals. . . Text from treadwaygallery.com
Sometimes the back of a painting can be pretty interesting too. Preserving the provenance and all of the labels helps tell the story of the object and can sometime help contextualize where it’s been. For this small Stuart Davis piece removing the old backing board revealed Davis’ original inscription on the stretcher. The backing board was also not archival and had not only discolored itself over time but had also darkened some of the labels that were affixed to it. The backing board I use is acid free and archival so it won’t discolor and have any adverse effects on the piece itself.
I normally save this stuff for Friday but to heck with that. This gorgeous little painting by Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), a French painter known for his paintings of flowers needed to have an unnecessary wax lining removed (hidden were a stamp, inventory number and inscription!). The wax lining had depressed the impasto (the texture of the paint) into the lining canvas and wax layer- this often happens when painting are wax lined face-down. Once that was removed and the canvas wax-desaturated it was strip/edge lined and restretched. A spot of retouching and varnish to complete the piece. It was beautiful before varnish, but after, it’s downright stunning.