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Thursday, May 16 • 4:30pm - 5:00pm
(Tough Challenges Need New Techniques) How to Take Care of the Tarot Garden by Niki the Saint Phalle? Guiding "Her Team" to a More Conservative and Methodical Approach and to an Interdisciplinary Collaboration

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This work, began by Serena Vella in 2008, focuses on The Tarot Garden, the famous sculpture park created, between 1979 and 2002, by the French and American artist Niki de Saint Phalle, on the Garavicchio Estate (Tuscany, Italy). It was inspired by the first 22 Tarot cards and two main parks: the old Park of the Monsters in Bomarzo and Parc Güell in Barcelona. The major sculptures are more than ten metres high and were intended to be inhabitable. They were built in concrete with an iron core and covered by tens of thousands of multicoloured tiles of mirror, glass and ceramic, all locally created by the artist and the ceramist at that time in charge. The material complexity of the sculptures, the environment in which they are immersed, and the weather conditions to which they are subjected, significantly affect the sculptures’ conditions, including the structures and their decorative tiles with chemical, physical, and biological degradation phenomena. The Garden is supported by the Fondazione “Il Giardino dei Tarocchi”, a private and non-profit organization instituted by the artist in 1997 with the aim of preserving the Garden. The sculptures are regularly kept under control by the Tarot Garden team, which is made up by a first group of people who assisted the artist in creating the sculptures and a second group of individuals who started working at the Garden more recently. To date, the daily maintenance procedures has involved the restoration of the structures and their covering tiles, which, when damaged, are usually replaced with identical tiles easily reproduced thanks to the original moulds conserved in the storehouse sited inside the Garden. This means that the artist planned for the substitution of the tiles. However, The Tarot Garden Foundation is now considering the chance to evaluate other possible solutions, directing the work to a more conservative approach, in order to reduce substitutions and to advance the preservation of the original materials. The project will have, not only the aim of proposing materials and techniques for conservation interventions, but, firstly of developing a planned and preventive conservation project with the goal of stopping or at least slowing down the degradation of the sculptures, keeping under control their condition thanks to a constant environmental monitoring of the Garden. The project will be supported by trained conservators and determined by the cooperation of experts working in academic research, in the fields of civil engineering and art conservation in order to: 1) not trigger further degradation phenomena with the use of non-proper products, 2) prolong the time between subsequent interventions, 3) reduce the substitutions of the original materials and ensure that the substitutions will not entirely replace in the long run the original parts realized in the ’80s, 4) replace the current maintenance procedures performed by the local team, guiding and directing them to a more conservative and methodical approach and to an interdisciplinary collaboration.

avatar for Serena Vella

Serena Vella

Conservator, Private Practice
Serena Vella works in Rome as independent conservator. She earned a BA (2005) and a MA (2013) in Art Conservation from the University of Urbino. After graduation, she spent a year in New York (2013-2014), where she attended a six months Intensive English Course at Kaplan International... Read More →

Thursday May 16, 2019 4:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
Salon B2, Uncas Ballroom
  General Session, Tough Challenges Need New Techniques
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Serena Vella
  • Abstract ID 18876
  • Tags Tarot Garden,Niki de Saint Phalle,tile,ceramic,glass,mirror,conservation,preservation,preventive conservation,conservator,artist,collaboration