Excerpted from the December 6 article "Conserving canvas: from tear-mending to 'mist lining’, conservators share their techniques," by Victoria Stapley-Brown for The Art Newspaper:
Conservation projects that
focus on the pigments of paintings tend to enthral the public, but
caring for the canvas itself is just as essential to a work’s survival.
That fact was brought home at the recent symposium Conserving Canvas,
hosted by Yale University’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural
Heritage and funded by the Getty Foundation.
the last two or three decades, we’ve made leaps and bounds of advances
in technologies for cleaning paintings. There just hasn’t been as much
attention to the structural part,” says Cynthia Schwarz, the senior
associate curator of paintings at the Yale University Art Gallery. As a
result, the symposium, the first major international forum on the topic
in 45 years, drew around 370 experts from more than 25 countries.
last year as a grant programme and managed by Antoine Wilmering, a
senior programme officer at the Getty Foundation, Conserving Canvas
seeks to ensure that skills and methods are passed on in this crucial
area. Wilmering began contacting museum conservators in 2017 to identify
common concerns, and learned that skills in the field of canvas
restoration were disappearing.
the 1980s, conservators have shifted away from the technique of
lining—affixing a second fabric support to the back of a painted canvas,
which can stabilise a work or repair damage—and opted for less invasive
techniques such as tear mending, Wilmering says. Nonetheless,
conservators need to understand the technical issues around linings, if
only to recognise when they need to be replaced, he says. Using a
wax-resin adhesive to attach the lining, which can darken the paint or
flatten impasto if poorly executed, has largely been abandoned, but
“it’s really important to understand how it was done and why it was done
so that we can treat things going into the future”, Schwarz says. . . .