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Wednesday, May 15 • 4:30pm - 5:00pm
(Paintings) The Conservation History and Treatment of Three Large-Scale Paintings by Joan Miró: Releaving Canvas Distortions in Highly Reactive Paintings with a Gliding Elastic Tensioning System

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This talk describes the treatment of three canvas paintings by Joan Miró, measuring approx. 104" x 136" each, exhibited as a triptych with the title “Peintures Murales pour un Temple” (1962). The three paintings were executed on glue-sized linen and have undergone early restorations with the application of large quantities of additional animal glue in the attempt to prevent cracking, paint flaking and planar distortions. This resulted in the paintings becoming even more strongly reactive to environmental changes, causing extensive planar distortions in medium-high RH and severe warping of the stretchers in low RH conditions. For at least three decades, the conservation environment has not been controlled according to Museum Standards, and the paintings have suffered cyclic stresses and deformations despite several attempts to stabilize them. The original stretchers were replaced with stronger ones in 1981, in 2006 one of the paintings was re-stretched on a continuous tension Starofix stretcher in order to introduce some elastic response, but none of the attempts showed significant improvement. In March 2013, a new approach was devised, which allows free movement of the painting along and across the edges of the stretcher. Elastic tension is applied directly on the tacking margin and is evenly distributed on the whole painting. The force is precisely measured and chosen according to the needs of each painting, never exceeding its elastic response even at high RH. The elastic system is based on the use of soft springs, so that the force expressed by the painting when shrinking in low RH will be enough to extend them. A rather simple version of the system was successfully used for the first time on the “Beheading of the Baptist” by Caravaggio in 1954, and in 1996, the technique was updated to the current version. Since then, hundreds of canvas paintings of varying formats, shapes, painting techniques and periods have been successfully stretched and monitored all over Europe and show no sign of new stress-related conservation problems nor the appearance of new cracks in the paint layers. A book titled “The Tensioning of Canvas Paintings, Aiming for the Correct Tension Value” was published in 2004, which describes the science of the method and the evidence on which it is based. The method calls for freeing the canvas from tacks or staples on the perimeter, thus highly reducing damage and stresses when mounting and unmounting the canvas on a stretcher, a process that large paintings often undergo for transportation or temporary displacements. The special edge lining canvas used for mounting the paintings allows to glue only weft threads on the painting, which permits free expansion and contraction along the perimeter.

avatar for Antonio Iaccarino Idelson

Antonio Iaccarino Idelson

Conservator, Equilibrarte srl
Antonio Iaccarino Idelson is Paintings Conservator, focusing on structural and preventive conservation. Founder and President of Equilibrarte s.r.l.. Lecturer in canvas paintings conservation at Urbino University since 2002, has given lectures and workshops on related subjects in... Read More →

avatar for Ana Alba

Ana Alba

Conservator, Alba Art Conservation
Ana Alba is a painting conservator in private practice and specializes in the conservation of 19th Century, modern and contemporary works. She previously worked for Luca Bonetti Corp., and was the William R. Leisher Fellow in the Conservation and Research of Modern Paintings at the... Read More →

Carlo Serino

conservator, equilibrarte srl
Carlo Serino, also a conservator with a degree from Istituto Centrale per il Restauro in Rome, is co-founder of Equilibrarte with Antonio Iaccarino Idelson, a company composed of five conservators and external collaborators, dealing with conservation of ancient art (ranging from archaeological... Read More →
avatar for Luca Bonetti

Luca Bonetti

conservator, CEO, Luca bonetti corp
Luca Bonetti is a conservator of modern and contemporary art. After having worked in various museums and private conservation studios, mostly in Italy and Switzerland (where he was the first apprentice at the Swiss National Museum in Zürich), he finally settled in New York City in... Read More →

Moriah Evans

curator, Solow Art and Architecture Foundation,

Wednesday May 15, 2019 4:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
Salon B2, Uncas Ballroom
  Specialty Session, Paintings
  • Track Paintings
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Antonio Iaccarino Idelson, Ana Alba, Luca Bonetti, Carlo Serino, Moriah Evans
  • Abstract ID 18927
  • Tags canvas paintings,elastic tennsion,springs,Miro,animal glue