Conservation: Paint, Tape, and Sardines
March 25, 2014
Jessica Ford is a graduate intern in paintings conservation at the Lunder Conservation Center. She is completing her graduate work at the Winterthur program at the University of Delaware and is currently working on a number of projects with our conservation staff.
A challenging theme has developed in Jessica Ford's projects at the Lunder Conservation Center: tape! In painting conservation, adhesive tape is not usually encountered during examination or treatment. However, in contemporary art the use of unconventional materials is rarely surprising. At times, tape was applied by painters to frame the edges of paintings or to guide a straight line. Michael Goldberg's Sardines uses a different approach and prominently features adhesive tape as part of the painting's composition.
Goldberg's paintings often grow from a central, physical object. The artist begins with a realistic element and then redefines it with an energetic working process. Here, simple line drawings were covered in swaths of heavy paint, collaged elements of paper or tape were relocated or removed, and new lines were painted or carved to recall the original object. Although expressive and experimental, his work was also carefully crafted.
Sardines was brought into the Lunder Conservation Center primarily because both the paint's and the tape's adhesion to the canvas needed to be strengthened. Part of Jessica's work will be cleaning the surface, stabilizing the paint layer, and analyzing the paint's composition. Her other major focus will be addressing the two different types of adhesive tape used by Goldberg. As a material, tape can deteriorate quickly. Over time, it can darken, lose adhesion, and become brittle. A conservation treatment must be planned that does not compromise the artist's intent or the appearance of his materials. In the coming weeks, Jessica will research the art historical context of Sardines and draw on her technical knowledge of artistic media to develop a treatment approach.
Currently, Jessica is looking into the history, material components, and conservation of adhesive tape. Art conservators often share their findings with others in the field. So, Jessica, along with Lunder conservators Tiarna Doherty and Amber Kerr, will be talking about their work at the American Institute for Conservation's annual meeting this coming May.
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