Volume 12, Number 3, Sept 1990, pp.26-28
The J. Paul Getty Museum has recently purchased a marble statue, known to be fake, in efforts to help authenticate its prized Kouros. The Getty's curator of antiquities, Marion True, and antiquities conservator Jerry Podany along with the Getty Conservation Institute and independent laboratories are about to carry out extensive testing and stylistic analysis of the two statues, in an attempt to come to some conclusion about the origin of the Kouros.
Economic realities have forced the Los Angeles Endowment for the Arts granting program to take a $500,000 cut for the 1990-91 fiscal year. Al Nodal, general manager of the Cultural Affairs Department stated, "I feel bad that the grants program is being reduced this year...It's because of the economic realities that we're facing; the city is in dire financial straits." A mandatory 6% across-the-board budget reduction was imposed citywide in order to make up a $100 million city deficit.
As director of the Getty Conservation Institute for the past five years, Luis Monreal has created an efficient international art conservation organization which offers expertise, runs training programs, conducts scientific research, and runs field projects around the world. His new title at UNESCO in Paris will be Coordinator of Cultural Heritage Programs. The post will consist of "contributing and developing programs that respond to real needs" and "increasing resources allocated to cultural heritage programs."
"Legislation, aimed at stemming the flow of trash to the nation's landfills, includes a ban on cadmium pigments to help prevent toxic substances from seeping into ground water supplies. Alarmed, artists quickly informed (U.S. Sen.) Chafee that cadmium is an irreplaceable source of their brightest and most fade- resistant red, yellow and orange colors." Protecting the earth and public health concerns have given support to this measure, which pits these issues against freedom of expression.
Three Paris museums were permanently closed to all but group tours. This measure was taken after three art thefts occurred in one day. The Carnavalet Museum lost a painting by Paul Huet, and an 1870 work by Ernest Herbert was taken from the Ernest Herbert Museum. Renoir's "Portrait of a Seated Woman" was sliced away from its frame and taken from the Louvre.
The German government recently announced that it was paying $3 million to regain a lost treasure: an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels, 500 years older than the Gutenberg Bible. The Gospels have been secretly for sale for at least the past two years. The Gospels were stolen by an American GI during WWII, and for nearly 35 years sat in the man's business office in rural east Texas. The German government agreed to buy back the Gospels after the American seller threatened to sell the book to a Japanese buyer. Though the government paid 1/3 of the asking price, "there was the alternative of...a long ordeal in the courts, or letting ourselves be semi-blackmailed." This transaction brings to question why the art world shields traffickers in stolen goods, and whether a government should pay ransom monies for stolen goods.
Animation art, its recent history, and advice about its conservation are presented in this short article in the "Collecting Notes" section.
The litigation of First Amendment issues is being threatened by artists and art organizations against the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The issue of whether it is "art or pornography" has caused the NEA to require that the content of art displayed to the public confirm their standards. Up to two dozen organizations have rejected grant monies with these requirements and threatened to sue the NEA.
"The beauty of a glazed ceramic arises from the interplay of light with the complex structure of the glaze. The methods of materials science reveal the ingenuity of ancient glazing technologies."
The question presented in this article is the relevance and validity of the principles set forth in the Venice Charter to the Chinese Temporary Code of Protection and Administration. The authors state, "It would appear that this document was written in the context of the Western approach to this matter, and in fact runs counter to the very basic philosophical tenet of the Chinese perspective of the world. If a certain validity is ascribed to the Chinese approach--and we would argue that this cannot be denied--then the Venice Charter should not be looked upon as a universal document, applicable across the human experience, but rather as one which was written to address Western experience only."
Smithsonian Secretary Robert McC. Adams acknowledged that the Smithsonian will impose layoffs, abolish some existing programs and cancel planned expansion, due to deep budget cuts. Endangered are: a $300 million annex to the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles Int. Airport, redevelopment of the old General Post Office Building for office and museum space, an expansion of the Hirshhorn, and addition of storage space at the Museum Support Center in Suitland MD. The creation of the National Museum of the American Indian is expected to proceed, but the planned African- American "presence" on the Mall, and all other projects, are in question.
A federal judge in Manhattan denied a motion by lawyers for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to dismiss a suit filed by Turkey, which seeks to recover more than 200 artworks known as the Lydian Hoard. The items include gold and silver jewelry, vases, and utensils from the 5th or 6th century BC. Turkish lawyers contend that the antiquities were excavated illegally from burial mounds in the Usak region of Turkey in 1966. The MMA sought dismissal on the grounds that Turkey had delayed unreasonably in making its demand, and that they (MMA) innocently acquired the works through a series of gifts and purchases.
The EPA has granted approval to McCrone Associates to continue distributing Arochlor, a mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls, as a slide mounting medium in art and historical conservation laboratories. Monona Rossol, Editor of Acts FACTS, included in her report a strong editorial comment. She reported her personal observations from only a few years ago of: "..Arochlor used in poorly equipped laboratories by students and others who were untrained in the hazards of the material. In one case I also saw excess Arochlor removed from the edges of slides with a wet grinding wheel by people using no personal protection. Splashes, mists and contamination of hands and clothing with wet abrasive were observed. The grind wheel was left uncleaned until the PCB- contaminated grit dried and became a dust. As far as I could determine, no special care was taken in cleanup and disposal of this PCB contaminated dusty material. Practices like these must not be allowed if conservators are to keep their exemption to use Arochlor." (Excerpted from ACTS FACTS; Monona Rossol, Editor; 181 Thompson St. 23; New York NY 10012.) According to the report in ACTS FACTS, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are "highly toxic and environmentally damaging."
For 13 years, Robert Chrisman has been inspecting and maintaining the granite sculptures of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The sculptures were completed in October 1941, and Chrisman uses a formula devised by the monument's sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, to "seal" cracks in the stone. The formula is a mixture of white lead, linseed oil and granite dust. Chrisman also "pulls away weeds and algae" and removes bird nests. According to Chrisman, Mount Rushmore receives no other maintenance.
Mural paintings on excavated Maya architecture are deteriorating rapidly. High humidity; intense sun; vandals; tourists; attack by algae and vegetation; "'black scab,' which forms when limestone reacts with acidic moisture;" acid rain; microorganisms; leaching of salts; ash from volcanic eruption; sulfuric acid from volcanic eruption; soot from tourist buses, air pollution from oil refineries--all these are cited as contributing factors to the degradation of the colors and the obliteration and deterioration of the paint and the limestone substrate. Since the 1900s, some dedicated individuals have engaged in making detailed color renderings or records of the murals, and these have proven to be invaluable. Presently, standard color charts are being used to record the exact colors of the paint. In this article, a current researcher is quoted as saying: "In the 1960's conservators injected the walls with silicone, which held the paintings up, just as it would a woman's face,...but then the silicone flowed down, and the murals ended up being worse off." Also stated by the article's author: "Conservators also unwittingly obliterated parts of the mural when they sealed several large cracks with cement." The recent cleaning of a milky layer of calcium carbonate from the printed surfaces has also caused concern among current researchers. They feel that the accretion had been protecting the paint. The concluding paragraph quotes National Geographic Society archaeologist George E. Stuart: "Once you've found them [painted ancient artifacts], you may as well write them off. That's why we want to record them--for all time."
The prevention of deterioration--rather than conservation of deteriorated art--is highlighted in this article, which deals chiefly with contemporary works of art on paper. The reporter includes extensive quotes from conservators Paula Volent (pictures, too), Mark Watters, Bob Aitchison, and conservation scientist Eric Hansen. The article concludes with references to preventive care for sculpture, with quotations from sculpture conservator Rosa Lowinger.