As you can see from this post on the Conserving Mark Rothko’s Black on Maroon and the last one on the Lansdowne Hermes, I have a love and appreciation for art conservation. My understanding and feelings towards the practice are probably more romantic than practical, but it is a fascinating practice none the less.
In October of 2012 Mark Rothko’s ‘Black on Maroon’ was vandalized by a gallery visitor. The video from the Tate Modern documents the 18 months or research and work that went into restoring the painting. The research and testing that was done before the original painting went into conservation are remarkable. It shows the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that can inform the work of Conservators and Conservation Scientists. It is an amazing marriage between art history and science (chemistry). For me, it is a fascinating insight on material and process.
The team researched and meticulously recreated sections of Rothko’s paintings based on analysis of material and technique. The sample was rapidly aged to simulate changes to the painting material over time before being damaged and solvents tested. The Tate’s own research paper on the paintings conservation detail the process. I have also added several links bellow to interviews with the Dr. Bronwyn Ormsby, Senior Conservation Scientist, and Rachel Barker, the conservator who undertook the treatment.
“Rothko’s paint is notoriously sensitive to retouching mediums. I wanted to bring out as much of Rothko’s painting and as little of my own material,” she said. “I used modified water colour to make it more matte or more glossy. In the black the glaze was dissolved. So what I had to replace was the whole egg and dammar layer. That was the biggest challenge.”
– Rachel Barker