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Wednesday, May 15 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
(Objects) Making It Stick: Challenges with the Re-Coating of Miró's Outdoor Bronze Sculpture Entitled Personnage

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The J. Paul Getty Museum has carried out a technical study and treatment of Joan Miró’s outdoor bronze sculpture entitled Personnage (designed 1976, cast 1985). Brought into the conservation lab to address issues with surface efflorescence of core material and to restore aged, protective coatings, a multitude of issues were raised surrounding its history of manufacture, complex scientific analyses of the coatings, and challenging treatment options. Examination of the Getty cast, fabricated at Fonderia Bonvicini in Verona in 1985, revealed significant differences from earlier casts and the complicated edition history was clarified through dialogues with the foundry, archival research, and x-radiography. The paper will review quantitative analysis of the bronze alloys with XRF, complemented by trace elemental analysis with ICP-MS. The work contributes reference data for comparison with other Miró bronzes and introduces difficulties found in the detection of elements in modern silicon bronze alloys using a handheld XRF system alone. The early stages of the treatment involved the removal of aged coatings using solid carbon dioxide blasting and solvent cleaning with the aid of FTIR analysis to identify the removal layer-by-layer. A range of maintenance waxes, a previously undocumented partial Incralac coating, and underlying earlier coatings were characterized, along with their solubilities, in the course of the treatment. Fully stripped as much as possible, the olive green and black patina on the surface of the bronze appeared mottled and disturbed since the porosity of the casting allowed salt migration and localized corrosion. An acrylic lacquer, called Permalac, was initially chosen as it now supplies a range of complimentary products that would allow for reintegration, including toned lacquers. Issues with poor adhesion were immediately apparent despite utilizing the manufacture’s recommended guidelines for coating application. The experience led to the development of a more extensive methodology to evaluate the adhesion and quality of a test coating using ASTM standards that were modified for use on outdoor sculpture. The process included testing of several different coating mixtures and application protocols on both copper coupons and the sculpture itself. The approach revealed interesting information regarding the effects of diluents and drying times on the performance of the film. The analysis and the treatment reinforced the need for constant adaptation, with several cycles of scientific analysis and treatment testing yielding incremental improvements in the performance and appearance of the surface coating. It is hoped that this methodology, including the protocols used for testing, can be applied to other outdoor bronze treatments and that technical data amassed can contribute to the growing body of literature on Miró outdoor sculpture and contemporary bronze casting.

avatar for Jessica Chasen

Jessica Chasen

Assistant Conservator, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Jessica Chasen is an assistant conservator in Decorative Arts and Sculpture Conservation at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Jessica earned an M.S. in Art Conservation from Winterthur / University of Delaware with a specialization in objects conservation and a minor in painted surfaces... Read More →

avatar for Arlen Heginbotham

Arlen Heginbotham

Conservator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, J. Paul Getty Museum
Arlen Heginbotham received his A.B. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and his M.A. in Art Conservation from Buffalo State College. He is currently Conservator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Arlen’s research interests include the history... Read More →
avatar for Herant Khanjian

Herant Khanjian

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Herant Khanjian received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from California State University, Northridge and has been a member in the Science department of the Getty Conservation Institute since 1988. His research interests involve the detection and identification of organic media... Read More →
avatar for Julie Wolfe

Julie Wolfe

Conservator, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Julie Wolfe has an M.A. from Buffalo State College specializing in objects conservation. She obtained advanced training in conservation at the Straus Center for Conservation, Harvard University Art Museums. Julie is now a Conservator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Decorative Arts... Read More →

Wednesday May 15, 2019 4:00pm - 4:30pm EDT
Salon B1, Uncas Ballroom
  Specialty Session, Objects
  • Track Objects
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Jessica Chasen, Julie Wolfe, Arlen Heginbotham, Herant Khanjian
  • Abstract ID 18782
  • Tags bronze,outdoor sculpture,Joan Miró,Fonderia Bonvicini,XRF,ICP,FTIR,acrylic coatings,Permalac,Incralac,silicon bronze