I was looking forward to hearing this talk by Christopher Maines, Conservation Scientist from the National Gallery of Art, on artist materials used by Andy Warhol in his earlier artworks, especially since it mentioned the possibility of traditional materials. Maines began his talk with a brief summary on Warhol’s early techniques as a commercial artist between 1949-1960, specifically the blotted-line technique. Warhol’s first pop paintings during 1960 and 1962 consisted of acrylic paints on primed, stretched canvas which he hand-painted, such as 1962’s A Boy for Meg. The end of the 1960s, Warhol moved into using hand-cut silk screens with synthetic polymer paints, such as 1962’s Green Marilyn. Warhol continued to use these silk screens and synthetic polymers into the 1980s, before dying in 1987. In summary, Warhol chose to use these particular materials because they were quick drying, offered a thrill or chancy nature, and Warhol was accepting of any imperfections which occurred during the creative process, such as drips.
Maines continued to discuss synthetic polymer paints and thoughts when they were originally introduced. The NGA began analysis of Warhol’s A Boy for Meg in preparation for an upcoming exhibition to determine it’s material composition. The artwork was sampled in four places and GC-MS analysis revealed Warhol was using drying oil and egg when he was transitioning from his commercial work into his pop paintings. It was likely that Warhol was using egg as a material because he was already familiar with its behavior. NGA was fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to sample from two other artworks from this time period owned by museums in Germany: 129 DIE IN JET! and DAILY NEWS. Both revealed drying oil and egg in these samples, as acrylic paints over a ground layer consisting of drying oil and egg.
I found this talk very interesting, especially to know that Andy Warhol was using a mixture of traditional and modern materials in his artworks. Scientific analysis can provide such fantastic insight to the working materials and methods of artists and I am very glad NGA shared their findings for this time period of Warhol’s career at this year’s AIC Annual Meeting.
Any there any other Warhol fans out there? What are some of your favorites of Warhol works? If you could read the scientific analysis report for any famous artwork to find out exactly what the artist used, what would it be? Please share any thoughts or comments!
NOTE: Other authors on lecture are Suzanne Q. Lomax, Organic Chemist and Jay Krueger, Senior Conservator of Modern Paintings, both at the National Gallery of Art.
I’m am extremely excited that I signed up to write a blog post for this Paintings Group Session at the 41st Annual Meeting for AIC: The Contemporary in Conservation this week in Indianapolis. As an emerging conservator specializing in the conservation of paintings, I found this discussion very important for our field and I was so pleased that Matthew Cushman gathered this renowned group of conservators together for the discussion. The discussion (Current Challenges and Opportunities in Paintings Conservation) was well attended and the four presentations provoked important questions and topics for group discussion. This post isn’t intended for solely paintings conservators, but for all fine art conservators, restorers, and any people looking to find out more about the preservation and future of fine art.
Fair warning: this post is going to be a long one. I found so much relevant and notable topics were mentioned and I think they all deserve to brought up. This post is a little less personal opinion and a little more regurgitation of the facts – which is great for anyone who was not able to attend the discussion. The discussion panel consisted of mediator Tiarna Doherty from the Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian Art Museum, and panelists: Rustin Levenson private conservator and owner of Rustin Levenson Art Conservation Associates; Alan Phenix conservation scientist from the Getty Conservation Institute; Joyce Hill Stoner educator in paintings conservation at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation; and Rob Proctor Co-Director and private conservator at Whitten & Proctor Fine Art Conservation.
Tiarna started the discussion with an introduction to each panelist, which was followed by a 10 minute slide-show presentation by each panelist discussing key points and topics each thought related to current trends and upcoming challenges in paintings conservation. This format acted as a starting point for the group discussion which followed. All the panelists came from different backgrounds which consisted of private, educational, institutional, and scientific positions, so different perspectives for the field of paintings conservation could be properly represented.
Continue reading “41st Annual Meeting – Paintings Session, Friday May 31, "Panel Discussion: Current Challenges and Opportunities in Paintings Conservation" by Levenson, Phenix, Hill Stoner, Proctor”