Volume 13, Number 3, Sept. 1991, p.27
John Asmus, a Caltech trained physicist, has found his latest challenge in the conservation of antiquities. With a training in nuclear fusion, he found that better work prospects were to be found in investigating and planning laser-weapons research. His work has taken him around the world, and has allowed him to apply his knowledge to many different uses. His latest research is directed to the cleaning of environmentally damaged stone and pigment painted terracotta antiquities.
Jerry Podany, Conservator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, gives some sound, simple and common-sense advice about securing your environment in preparation for the Big One, and everyday occurrences.
On June 1, 1991, the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 went into effect, ensuring that "art works cannot be destroyed, defaced or mutilated once they leave the hands of the artist." Although this new legislation presents a clear change in the view of the law, there exist some questionable gaps and exclusions, such as film, video, and arts which are considered as crafts rather than fine art.
"During the 1960s and early 70s, when science and engineering lured artists with a raft of enticing potentialities, Robert Rauschenberg worked with teams of technicians to create several major audience-interactive art works. Here, Billy Kluver, a principal collaborator, recalls the mechanics of that euphoric marriage of art and technology."
As they are, the four pieces of art discussed in the previous article, require constant maintenance and the technology used then is not basically obsolete. Although the museums which own these pieces are willing to reconstruct them and make them technologically up-to-date, the cost of this revamping would be beyond their means.
La Portada de la Majestad, the early Gothic portal in the church of Santa Maria La Mayor in Toro, Spain, is undergoing major restoration work which is to be completed by next year. Making the decision to remove the many upper layers of paint was called "making an esthetic judgment," returning the sculptures to the original color and dress of the Gothic period. Zahira Veliz, technical director of the project, explains that leaving the upper layers would have been detrimental to the Conservation of the original paint, as the gesso applied to one of the early paintings contains calcium sulfate, and this sulfur softens and aids in deteriorating the stone ground. The removal thus far has enlightened many as to the original Gothic style of polychrome sculpture.
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