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Re: [BKARTS] A comment on 'preservation'



I saw the Eva Hesse retrospective at the Jewish Museum
several months back.  She was one of the chief
proponents of the use of industrial materials in
sculpture.  The resultant deterioration of her works
over the past 35 or 40 years is remarkable.  One work
made with latex-coated fabric stuffed with plastic
drop cloths was brown, brittle-looking, and
drooping?tired and uninteresting when compared to
photos taken at the time of the completion of the
work.  During the late 60s and early 70s many artists
were making ephemeral works which were destroyed or
encouraged to deteriorate and they sold documentary
photographs to collectors.  Eva Hesse was an artist
who sold the now deteriorating originals (or her
sister did after her death).

The obsession with longevity appears to be a modern
one because it is only in modern times that new
materials have come on the market at such a fast pace,
that artists are so tempted to use them in order to
push boundaries in pursuit of the cult of the new and
different, or in an effort to save time and money, and
that artists are so poorly educated concerning the
materials that they use.  The "lake" colors of
watercolor paint which were made possible by the use
of dyes developed in the 19th century were pretty-much
abandoned since the colors are so fugitive.  When
Leonardo experimented (in The Last Supper) with
painting on dry plaster instead of using fresco (wet
plaster) as was customary, his mistake became obvious
very quickly.  The paint was flaking off within 19
years of the completion of the work. Art Historians do
not consider the many times re-painted work to have
anything of the original Leonardo surviving except for
the composition.  Had Leonardo stuck with
tried-and-true fresco, we might have the original
work, as we do with Michelangelo?s Sistine Chapel
frescos. 

One can intentionally destroy unwanted artworks that
are made with archival materials (as many artists do
to avoid drowning in a pile of stuff), but preserving
a wanted work which was made with non-archival
materials can become far more of a problem.

Ann

--- "Wood, Susan" <SWood@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> On another topic, I've been watching the discussion
> on archival
> materials with considerable interest. It seems to me
> that the obsession
> with longevity is a relatively modern one. It
> certainly didn't bother
> Leonardo as he experimented with fresco or oil
> painting techniques. OK.
> He created a headache for conservators, but if he
> hadn't been pushing
> the boundaries we might not have had The Last Supper
> and Mona.
> 
> I thought that Andrew Williams made a good point
> when he said "Books
> (all art works?) LIVE, they have lives like us, they
> deteriorate and
> die." 
> 
> If they didn't, we'd all be drowning in an even
> bigger pile of 'stuff'
> than we are now.
> 
> Sue Wood (in Oz) 
> 
>             
> 





 
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