Conservation of art work is a big business. But how do you conserve artworks from the 20th Century whose materials are fragile and prone to disintegration? Well, you can ask the artist... The
The NY Times has a great article regarding the conservation of contemporary artwork.
Click here to read it.
I’ve broached the subject before and unfortunately my solution has been the same as other artists when told to conservators such as Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, the Whitney's director of conservation – just let “me” fix it. The problem arises when I am no longer “me”. Minimalist artist, Mark Rothko committed suicide in 1970, but didn’t leave instruction regarding the long-term care of his work. I’ve mentioned before the terrible time conservators have had trying to repair pieces by Jackson Pollock. Do you recall those 10 or 15 or 20 year recommendations printed on the exterior house paint cans you bought at Sherman-Williams? Well those cans were pretty similar to the ones Pollock mixed into his massive drip paintings. While those year designations were intended as ratings for outdoor exposure to the elements, the paint was still expected to only have a fairly limited life.
I’m sure our apprehension at telling the secrets of our process is only part self-protective and mostly just lazy. I’m still not keen on exposing my process, just yet; but maybe we should all take the time to write down a bit of our process-oriented background and possible ideas for repairs in a notebook that can be easily found. Think of it as life insurance for your artwork. – DN