Thursday 7 August 2008

Repair work

"Abstract painting," a friend once said to me. "It's so hard to look after."

In a recent NY Times article Holland Cotter writes about the Guggenheim exhibition Imageless: The Scientific Study and Experimental Treatment of an Ad Reinhardt Black Painting.

In 2000 AXA gifted a damaged Reinhardt black painting, along with a conservation grant, to the Guggenheim. The gesture, as Cotter describes it, was "the equivalent of donating a body to science": the donation enabled the Guggenheim's team to research Reinhardt's painting methods (which included siphoning most of the oil out of his oil paints, and mixing colours with his blacks) and to practice restoration techniques.

The final exhibition presents the still imperfect painting along with photos and video from the conservation work, and a group of undamaged black paintings. A great slideshow on the NY Times site mixes installation shots with photos of Reinhardt in his studio and preservation images.

Image: Reinhardt working on one of his black paintings in July 1966. Photo: John Loengard/Time & Life Pictures, via Getty Images. From the NY Times website.

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