Paintings Conservation, Paintings, Murals, and Polychrome Surfaces Conservation:
At McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory we perform conservation treatments on a large variety of artistic works, including the conservation of modern and contemporary paintings.
Recently, the blurred lines of a large round painting by the Swiss-born mixed-media artist Ugo Rondinone had a hypnotic effect on the conservation staff. The painting, #115 Ersternovemberneunzehnhundertachtundneuzig (11th November 1998), arrived with stains and abrasions at the McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, Inc. facilities just outside of Cleveland . Even during the examination of the painting, the cameras refused to auto-focus on the surface for before treatment images. However, the laser-like focus of Conservator of Paintings, Murals and Contemporary Art, Stefan Dedecek, soon returned the painting to pristine condition. Conservator Dedecek was even able to replicate the artist’s spray-applied technique with a brush for a nearly invisible retouching.
But good things often come in pairs.
By sheer coincidence, another large, round painting from different institution made its way to the lab in early 2018, Tim Rietenbach‘s US. The painting was in need of conservation treatment after a young visitor impacted (or head-butted) its surface while it was on display resulting in minor damage. For the treatment, the substrate was humidified and carefully coaxed back into plane.
These paintings shared more than just their round shapes. Both of these modern paintings had a commanding presence; each art object was over 80 inches in diameter. They also featured large flat painted areas with sharp contrast between areas of solid color. So while the damages may have appeared minor, this is misleading. The flat, large, and solid colors of the paintings only amplify damages. Every mark seems to stand out in sharp contrast to the featureless colors around it.
Fortunately, conservators are well-practiced in accomplishing the impossible, and McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory’s Stefan Dedecek is no exception. Both paintings were treated successfully at the lab and returned to their respective institutions.