Art conservation, publicity and the Met: Revisited

The Picasso painting, “The Actor,” damaged by an anonymous woman who fell into it, was returned to the public galleries by the Met’s Conservation Department. The Times has an short article, with these nice details:

The conservators had to act quickly because canvases, like people, “have a memory,” she explained. That is, the torn portion of the canvas had to be gently coaxed back to its flat state, otherwise it would have a tendency to return to the distortion left by the accident.  [….]Restoration involved a slow and careful realignment of the painting, and that meant time. So for six weeks “The Actor” lay face down, with varying weights on it to counteract the “memory” of the damage. First, Ms. Belloli said, she placed small silk sand bags that she made herself on the affected area; then slightly heavier ones, the kind seamstresses use to hold a pattern in place; and gradually heavier and heavier weights, stopping at one pound. Once the canvas seemed stabilized, she placed a clear Mylar patch on the back. “We didn’t want to hide any part of the other painting,” Ms. Belloli said.

And retouching was done. Nice that the conservator told the reporter that the retouching will age at a different rate than the rest of the painting. And the painting is now protected by Plexiglas.

(The Actor and issues related to art conservation was previously discussed here).

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By Paul Romaine

Paul Romaine is a grant writer and independent curator in New York City.

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