WAACNewsletter
Volume 15, Number 3, Sept 1993, pp.40-42

AYMHM: Articles You May Have Missed

Rosanna Zubiate Brenner, column editor
Kienholz vs. Mothra: Artist's 'Dodge' Beat the Censors, but Then Came the Insects
by Suzanne Muchnic, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, May 19, 1993,
p. F1, F4.

Recounts the censorship of Edward Kienholz's Back Seat Dodge '38, a large mixed-media sculpture created in 1964. The object was eventually purchased by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and this year, webbing cloths moths were discovered to have infested the piece. Working in a cooperative effort with the Getty Conservation Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum, the sculpture was treated in situ in the exhibition gallery by encasing it in a custom-made plastic bag that was filled with humidified nitrogen to eliminate the presence of oxygen while maintaining the RH to which the sculpture was acclimated. This "anoxic" nitrogen environment was maintained for 8 days to kill moths, larvae, and eggs. Conservators and conservation scientists Steven Colton, Dusan Stulik, Pieter Meyers, Vinod Daniel, Gordon Hanlon, and Brian Considine all are quoted. LACMA produced 10 hours of videotape that will be used to create an educational film that will be used in GCI training programs.

E.C.W.

Crystal Clear
by Ken Shulman. ARTnews, May 1993, vol. 92, no. 5, page 28.

Micro Trace, a Belgium-based company, is producing microcrystals that are impregnated with a secret code. When applied to an art object, these crystals are indelible and invisible, and their secret codes are maintained in a database maintained by Micro Trace that would identify ownership. The crystals must be applied by expert art restorers, and coding presently costs about $270 per item. These microcrystals were invented by Max Schover of the University of Bordeaux. Presently the Italian ministry of culture is considering the application of these crystals to its patrimony, which is estimated to be 50 to 75 percent of the world's art.

R.Z.B.

Florentine Masterpiece Visits the Met Museum
by Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times, July 20, 1993.

Andrea del Verrocchio's bronze, Christ and Saint Thomas, (called "The Doubt of Saint Thomas" in the ARTnews article noted below), has recently been restored and will be exhibited at the Met this summer.

The cleaning took five years. Details are visible for the first time in centuries. "At the same time, the work looks a bit, well, peculiar (and not because of its slight shininess, which derives from the synthetic wax coating that has been applied by the restorers to protect the sculpture's surface). The goal was to get down to the original patina, although patinas change over time and there's little solid information about the patinas of Italian Renaissance outdoor bronzes. The patina of Thomas is uneven but handsome, revealing evidence of its exposure to the elements in patches of green and black. The figure of Jesus, on the other hand, although better preserved because it was better protected by the niche [where displayed], is oddly startling to a modern viewer in its coloration, the whole figure a reddish brown that makes it resemble a gigantic piece of milk chocolate."

E.C.W.

No More Doubts About Saint Thomas, by Ken Shulman, ARTnews, May 1993, vol. 92, no. 5, page 53.

The restoration of Verrocchio's bronze sculpture The Doubt of Saint Thomas and Benozzo Gozzoli's fresco cycle Journey of the Magi have given new light to the creative and technical abilities of these two masters. Gozzoli, once considered "an able but sedentary artist" was chosen by Piero de Medici to decorate the family's private chapel in the Medici Palace in 1459. The fresco cycle was eventually covered by restoration work and layers of dust, which gave the work an opaque and dull quality. The restoration work has revealed the use of bright and expensive colorings, and has given Gozzoli a "reevaluation of his place among the painters of the quattrocento."

The Verrocchio sculpture was displayed outdoors, and after centuries was covered by a crust of oxidation and corrosion and pigeon droppings. This crust gave the metal a dull gray-green finish and obscured its original relief and tonality. "The Doubt of Saint Thomas" can again be regarded as the Verrocchio masterpiece that it is. The sculpture will be displayed at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art from the 16th of June through September 26.

R.Z.B.

Precious Jade,
by John Burke, in Museum of California Magazine, Volume 17, No. 2, Spring 1993, pages 8-13.

Reports the conservation efforts to repair the Chang Wen Ti Jade Pagoda which was extensively damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Making the Old New
by Deyan Sudjic, World Press Review, February 1993, page 49. (originally in The Guardian, London)

A very thought-provoking article about the "industry" of restoration of ancient monuments.

It is a measure of Britain's infatuation with its past that it is prepared to devote so much effort and money to the restoration [$90 million for fire damage at Windsor Castle]. What is less clear is the intellectual basis on which we conduct a reconstruction on such an unprecedented scale. In fact, we do not want Windsor to be as good as new. What Britain appreciates is that sense of patina that comes only from age...

Returning Native American Artifacts,
by Jack Rosenberger, Art in America, June 1993, Volume 81, No. 6, p. 3.

The Woods Memorial Library Museum in Barre, Massachusetts, is preparing to repatriate a collection of Native American objects. Among the objects are sacred amulets, bows and arrows, moccasins, Ghost Dance and warrior shirts and prayer pipes. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a 1990 law, defines the process by which these items must be returned. The law dictates that any federal institution or agency benefiting from federal funding must show complete, inventories of Native American holdings and notify any groups that may have claims. Native American artists today produce traditional objects which can be used to replace repatriated objects.

R.Z.B.

Dubrovnik Revisited
By F. Meder, US/ICOMOS, International Council on Monuments and Cites, U.S. Committee, Newsletter No. 4, 1993, pp. 1-2. (ICOMOS, Decatur House, 1600 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20006)

Dubrovnik, Croatia, was inscribed as a cultural site on the World Heritage List in 1979. Though protected monuments bore the emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention, and the United Nations flag flew on the ramparts, the city was repeatedly bombarded.

The Old City of Dubrovnik...was subjected to attacks with powerful weapons over a period of nine days in October, November and December 1991....some 2,000 shells of different calibers fell on the inner city....563 of the 824 buildings within the historic inner city had been hit by projectiles. 438 roofs had been damaged by direct hits...Nine buildings were completely destroyed by fire.

Relationships Between Conservators' Codes of Ethics an the Conservation Policies of Institutions--Common Threads, Conflicts and Failings"
by Athol McCredie, New Zealand Museums Journal, vol. 21, no. 1, 1991 pages 6-9; Journal of the Art Galleries and Museums Association of New Zealand.

Discusses the ways in which conservation codes of ethics and museum policies are and are not compatible. Calls for "higher levels of dialogue" between conservators and curators/owners/custodians, to keep one another better informed of each other's perspectives.

E.C.W.

'Peel Away' Rated Tops in Paint-Stripping Performnce" Practical Sailor, April 1993, page 13-18.

Discusses commercial formulas of paint stripper that can be used for fiberglass boats. Strippers containing methylene chloride were hard to escape, but the health hazard is high.

The top-rated stripper, Peel-Away Marine Safety Strip (from Dumond Chemical), was methylene-chloride free. It "employs a mixture of n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone and dibasic ester, which is, in turn, a mixture of dimethyl glutarate and dimethyl adipate." Thickening or bodying agents give a gel consistency. The time required for Peel-Away to work is 24-28 hours; protective paper sheets are applied to the wet surface after the stripper is applied. Cost is about $50 per gallon.

E.C.W.

Sears Aluminum Oxide 80-Grit Flunks Sandpaper Tests
Practical Sailor, April 1993, pages 19-22.

This interesting article lists the main U.S. manufacturers of sandpaper, as well as smaller competitors. Twelve 80-grit open-coat sandpapers were rated based on cutting time and paper loading. The sandpapers varied widely in their quality. A sidebar-article, "Build a Better Sandpaper; Get Rich Quick" describes how sandpaper is manufactured.

E.C.W.

Iceman
by Leon Jaroff, Time, October 26, 1992, pages 62-66, illustrated.

The mummified man found in 1991 in the Alps between Austria and Italy has been characterized as "by far the most ancient human being ever found virtually intact. (Some Egyptian mummies are older, but had...organs removed before interment.)" Damage was done by delays, and by removal using a jackhammer and then later when the site refroze, with a pickax and ski pole. A publicity event exposed the corpse to bright lights, smoking reporters, and handling. Fungus soon began to grow. It was treated with fungicide and placed in storage at 98% humidity and -6 degrees Centigrade (21.2°. F). The tools and clothing that were found with the man are described.

Upkeep for the Iceman is reportedly $10,000 per month. The University of Innsbruck will keep the body until no later than September 19, 1994, at which time it will be returned to South Tyrol, an autonomous region within Italy where the corpse was found. Rivalry between Austria and Italy has delayed research and created frustrations for scientists.

E.C.W.

Sacred Bolivian Textiles Returned,
by A.M.H.S., Archaeology, Volume 46, No. 1, Jan/Feb 1993, pp. 20-22.

Sacred Bolivian Textiles have been returned to the Aymara people in Bolivia. The textiles were taken by North American dealers at a time when the Aymara were suffering drought and famine conditions, which forced members to sell the sacred textiles. Some of the textiles were traced to a San Francisco based dealer who, under threat of legal action, returned the textiles to the Aymara. Others have been traced to private collectors in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

R.Z.B.

CFC Rules Change: Some Art & Conservation Products Affected,
in ACTS Facts, Volume 7, No. 2, February 1993, page 2.

Beginning Feb. 16, 1993, many products that release chlorofluorohydrocarbons (CFCs) are banned under the Clean Air Act. One exception, for the present time, is "document preservation sprays containing CFC-113 only." The EPA is convinced that "The aerosol can or pressurized dispenser is the only method that is appropriate and affordable for extremely delicate or valuable documents or for occasional and small volume users such as librarians, conservators, and archivists."

excerpted from ACTS FACTS

The SAFE Box,
by Margaret Cool Root, in The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology Associates Newsletter, Spring 1992.

SAFE is an acronym for Sensitive Artifact Facility and Environment. The SAFE Box is a structure conceived by Kelsey Museum conservator Geoffrey Brown, which will create a building- within-a-building (the Kelsey Museum is not climate controlled). It will be made from prefabricated panels and equipped with its own climate controlled environment. The SAFE Box will provide both storage and research space.

E.C.W.

Fluorescent Lights and PCBs,
by Angela Babin, in Art Hazards News, Volume 15, No. 4, p.2.

Discusses questions about polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in light fixtures manufactured before 1979. PCBs were used to insulate the small capacitors in the ballast. Health hazards of PCBs are reviewed. Refers to an EPA pamphlet (Green Lights Program) titled "Is There a Right Way to Dispose of Your Old Light Ballasts?"

E.C.W.

Louvre Restores (Some Say Defiles) a Masterpiece,
by Marlise Simons, in the New York Times, November 17, 1992, pages B1, B4.

Discusses the extensive and controversial cleaning of Veronese's Marriage at Cana. Some critics contend that the character and atmosphere of the work has been violated. "Daring decisions" during cleaning were made based on "chemical and x-ray analysis," most notoriously the removal of reddish-brown paint on the coat of the master of ceremonies, exposing an underlying green layer. A full-size radiograph is being displayed side-by-side with the painting. A French subsidiary of ICI paid $1 million for the cleaning and also sponsored the Veronese show, which includes 15 works.

Disaster/Hazard Mitigation & Recovery Organizations: A Diretory of Government Agencies, Academic Centers, and Professional Associations," prepared by the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center Staff.
In Technology and Conservation magazine, Summer-Fall 1992, Vol. 11, No. 2-3, pp.17- 21.

This guide was based on the "Information Sources" article that appeared in Natural Hazards Observer, Vol. XVII, No. 4, a publication of Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center.

Enzyme Treatments for Conserving Artistic/Historic Works: A Selected Bibliography 1940-1990,
by Elizabeth Morse. In Technology and Conservation magazine, Spring 1992, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 20-24.

This bibliography was originally prepared for "Enzyme Treatments: The Science & The Applications in Conserving Artistic/Historic Works," a seminar sponsored by Technology & Conservation and the MIT Museum, held October 27-28, 1990. It was updated in April 1991.

Entries are listed under the following subheadings:

General Enzyme References
General Conservation References
Object Conservation
Painting Conservation
Paper Conservation
Photographic Conservation
Textile Conservation

Conservation Terminology: A Review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials,
by Susan E. Schur.

This 5-part series lists materials with nomenclature information under three headings:

Name Prior to the 1800s
Name During the 1800s
Contemporary Name - Chemical Formula - Other Relevant Data
Installments appeared in the following issues:
Part I: Spring 1985
Part II: Summer 1985
Part III: Fall-Winter 1988
Part IV: Spring 1989
Part V: Spring 1992

Each back issue can be purchased for $5.50 (in U.S.A. and Canada); add $4.00 shipping/handling on orders <$36. Back issues outside the U.S.A. and Canada are $11.00. Order from Technology & Conservation, One Emerson Place, 16M, Boston, MA 02114.

Greener Papermaking--Is It Good for Permanence?
by Simon Green, Hayle Mill; Paper Conservation News, Number 66, June 1993, pages 5-6.

The manufacture of acidic paper is declining, and alkaline paper production is growing. Additionally, for ecological reasons, the use of chlorine compounds in the papermaking process is likely to end or be greatly reduced.

Forecasts for the next decades include: (1) virtual replacement of chlorine bleaching by oxygen, hydrogen peroxide and ozone, (2) a general decline in the quantity of chemicals used, (3) more tightly closed water systems, (4) more recycling of fiber, (5) greater use of secondary agricultural fibers, (6) "extensively- reformed" kraft pulping will be the dominant process.

The author notes that little research seems to be going on into the permanence implications and urges those with information to help the Institute for Paper Conservation to build a database for reference or to guide research.

E.C.W.

The Damaging Silence on Art Restoration
by James Beck, The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 1992, pages B3, B7.

The author, a professor of art history at Columbia University and founder of Artwatch, believes that academics and other scholars in the fine arts are too reluctant to criticize art restorations. The case of the controversial cleaning of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes is discussed, noting that most criticism has come from practicing artists. He notes, "Clearly, it is desirable, if not essential, to move the discourse concerning restoration beyond polemical exchanges about the merits of one project or another. What appears to be lacking is an overview of all the issues involved and a set of standards for restoration by which individual projects can be evaluated."

History Through the Camera's Eye: A Unique Photographic Technique to Record Vanishing Indian Art
by Victor Goodpasture, Photo>Electronic Imaging, June 1993, pages 46, 47.

Photographer Jim Henderson uses special techniques to record rock art--pictographs and petroglyphs--in Oregon and Washington. He uses cross-polarization and reverse-processing Kodak Ektachrome Professional color transparency films (processing the film in C- 41 instead of E-6 chemistry) to produce color negatives of exceptional contrast, saturation, and clarity. He also uses Kodak High Speed Infrared and Technical Pan films, processing them in Kodak T-Max RS developer to produce b&w negatives. These methods clarify the rock art images and show more than can be seen with the unaided eye.

E.C.W.

Ex-Director Convicted of Stealing Items from Museum,
by David Colker, The Los Angeles Times, March 11, 1993, page B1, B4.

Patrick T. Houlihan, past head of The Heard Museum (Phoenix), The New York State Museum (Albany), and the Southwest Museum (Los Angeles), was convicted on five counts of embezzlement and two counts of grand theft for actions while he was director of the Southwest Museum. National museum officials believe he is the highest-ranking museum officer ever tried for stealing from his own institution. Houlihan is now executive director of the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, New Mexico.

E.C.W.

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