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Saturday, June 1 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
(Book and Paper) Testing the Waters: Applying New Techniques to the Cleaning of Acrylic Paint Film

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Techniques for cleaning acrylic emulsion paint surfaces are still emerging in the contemporary landscape of conservation. Our discipline is in a process of identifying problematic first generation practices, while pursuing improved and alternative treatments, and framing a dialogue to guide future innovations. This paper will address itself to three case studies, relating to the implementation of new aqueous cleaning systems for acrylic paint films on paper supports.

The foundational issues of this practice derive from acrylic works’ sensitivity to aqueous cleaning methods. Paint film swelling and surfactant/pigment disruption are two of the primary risks facing conservators when cleaning acrylic works of art on paper. Utilizing a technique learned at the 2011 Cleaning of Acrylic Painted Surfaces (CAPS) Workshop organized by the Getty Conservation Institute and held at the Museum of Modern Art, we applied the use of pH and conductivity meters to test acrylic paint surfaces before creating “custom-fit” aqueous cleaning solutions. The cleaning solution may be adjusted to the approximate pH and conductivity of the painted surface, thereby minimizing changes to its physical and mechanical properties.

This presentation will describe the treatments of three works on paper by three different contemporary artists working with acrylic emulsion media. First, the treatment of In the Garden (1986) by Paula Rego, an acrylic painting on paper with embedded dirt and dust, will demonstrate the aqueous cleaning technique adapted to numerous pigments and their mixtures as well as varying thicknesses of paint film. Secondly, Maquette for Smoking Cigarette Relief (1983) by Tom Wesselmann will demonstrate the technique as applied to the removal of active mold growth and associated staining. And finally, a Classico by Robert Ryman (1968) in which this cleaning technique proved ineffective and other options were explored. The possibility of using this method for cleaning paper supports will be discussed briefly as well.

avatar for Amy Hughes

Amy Hughes

Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Paper Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Amy Hughes is an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Paper Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Amy graduated in 2014 from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center with an MA in Art History and an Advanced Certificate in Art Conservation. In 2014, she was a... Read More →

Daria Keynan

Paper Conservator, Daria K. Conservation
Daria Keynan is a conservator of modern and contemporary art on paper in New York City. She has authored numerous conservation publications, and is an instructor for the AIC Professional Development Course "Cleaning and Conductivity: New Methods for Treating Paintings, Works on Paper... Read More →

Saturday June 1, 2013 11:30am - 12:00pm EDT
JW Marriott White River Ballroom E 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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