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Friday, May 31 • 4:20pm - 4:40pm
(Contemporary Art Session 1) When Conservation Means Stapling: Touring an Unsupported, Unglazed, 9ft x 21ft, oil paint stick on Paper to Three Venues

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The loan of traditionally hinged, matted and framed works of art on paper is guided by well established protocols for safe shipping, handling and display in exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Can and should these standards be enforced when considering the loan of contemporary works on paper requiring non standard installation and display requirements? Can the conservator marry preservation and aesthetic integrity while fulfilling artist and institution expectations?
In 2009 the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) received a request for loan of an oversize work on paper by the American artist Richard Serra. “Untitled, 1974” is an oil paint stick on paper measuring 9 ft by 21 ft installed. The drawing is composed of two horizontal sheets each 5 ft x 21 ft which are overlapped, the bottom sheet overlapping the top sheet. It was originally installed directly on the wall using staples.
From the beginning the loan request was enthusiastically supported, but no one was expecting the drawing to be in exhibitable condition given its age (38 years), the use of oil paint stick media, and its 30 year rolled storage condition. Documentation was found to be incomplete and installation details missing. The sheer size of the work and its installation configuration presented immediate logistical problems. When the drawing was found to be in acceptable condition, the search for an installation methodology that would insure safe and expedient installation of the artwork at three venues and which met both the artists and conservators specifications became paramount and ended up defining the parameters of the loan.
This presentation will highlight major conservation issues and unique problems encountered during the process of examination, preparation and installation of the drawing. In particular the decision to lift the drawing by hand to the wall and install with staples is discussed and illustrated with visual documentation taken on site at the three venues. Methods for problem solving such as the use of full size mockups are outlined. The success of the loan parameters used is summarized.

avatar for Joan Weir

Joan Weir

Conservator – Works on Paper, Art Gallery of Ontario

Friday May 31, 2013 4:20pm - 4:40pm
JW Marriott White River Ballroom E 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204