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Subject: Structural support for mural panels

Structural support for mural panels

From: Niccolo Caldararo <caldararo>
Date: Monday, July 6, 1998
This is in response to Rhonda Wozniak on the subject of structural
support for mural panels.

This was a most important topic in our development of a treatment
proposal for The Rose by Jay DeFeo which Anne Rosenthal, I and Tony
Rockwell completed in 1995.  I researched the literature for
successful models of mounting systems and contacted (by letter or
phone) a number of people,  Anne and Tony also contacted numerous
people.  The main problem was that no one has had the funds to do a
comprehensive study of the durability of treatments, and few have
been able to do restudies of their own treatments to evaluate the
results.  This is a serious problem, such follow-up work should be
built into grants for conservation.

The short answer is that we received few responses, the most helpful
was from Marion Barclay at the National Gallery of Canada who had
applied a Hexcel panel to an oversize Resnick painting which
significant impasto.  She was able to report its condition to us
after more than 10 years of use.  Likewise, I had the luck to be at
the DeYoung and to have examined the Teotihuacan mural mounts (the
old system  of plaster and chicken wire) and the new one with
aluminum framework (see Leslie Bone's excellent article in Studies
v. 33 1988 for details).  You could contact Leslie to get an up to
date evaluation of the condition of the mounts now.  I have not seen
them for over two years but they looked in good condition then.  On
The Rose we used a composite system based on an airplane wing design
with plywood, epoxy and fiberglass and steel inset frame (described
in last years Painting Group's Postprints).  I went to great lengths
to find out the success and failure rates of every available system
for mounting, unfortunately all the conservation information was
anecdotal, the industrial data could be derived from journals like
Journal of Materials Science, Journal of Adhesion, etc.

I will report on this work in the future (when I have free time, ha,
ha), but I approached several granting agencies including the Kress
people for funding on durability of treatments and no one was
interested.  They all are "fully engaged" in funding training and
treatment as if we know what methods are most successful.  We are
teaching methods which are as yet unsupported by scientific studies
as to their durability and funding more of such treatments. David
Erhard's study of Wolper's methods is a case in point, David showed
in his experiments that the materials left insoluble films on the
paintings, but rather than this resulting in funding of studies of
paintings treated with these materials to verify David's findings
with numerous practitioners, the issue has been ignored.  This is
not how the field can advance.

I am just glad to see that Margaret Holben Ellis is researching the
cost of treatments (request in last DistList post) at least that is
a first step to understanding the cost/benefit of certain
treatments: that is, how acceptable a treatment is is only one
factor and should be balanced by data on how long it lasted before
needing retreatment, did it cause more damage?

If you have other questions, either email me Caldararo [at] AOL__com or
call at 415-453-9064.

Niccolo Caldararo
Director and Chief Conservator
Conservation Art Service

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:9
                  Distributed: Thursday, July 9, 1998
                        Message Id: cdl-12-9-009
Received on Monday, 6 July, 1998

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