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Tuesday, May 17 • 2:00pm - 4:00pm
(Book and Paper) Art on Paper Discussion Group 2016: “Paper is Part of the Picture: Connoisseurship and Conservation Practice'

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Paper Conservators have long relied on a variety of bathing and bleaching methods to reduce discoloration and stains in works of art on paper.  Innovative approaches to aqueous cleaning, in which pH and conductivity are manipulated to target specific problems, or which incorporate gels or alternative reducing agents, have generated a resurgence of interest in the topic. 

While these options may offer new tools for the paper conservator, do we all agree on what the desirable outcome should be? Justifications for cleaning treatments, such as improved contrast between media and substrate, or return to “artistic intent,” are steeped in subjective interpretation, shaped by historic, cultural, and institutional contexts.  Cleaning treatments may significantly alter chromatic and tonal values or remove indicators of artistic practice or historical use, potentially changing the authentic presentation of the work to meet the expectations of the viewing audience. Yet, a non-interventive approach, in which disfiguring stains and discoloration are allowed to remain, may also interfere with the interpretation of a work, and devalue its aesthetic purpose or conceptual meaning. 

As we increasingly strive to integrate our field with those of curators and other scholars, how do we, as conservators, define authenticity in art? What is our ethical obligation to preserve aesthetic/conceptual values in a work when they may be in conflict with the values of historicity? Can we justify an aesthetic gain when long-term preservation is not enhanced, knowing that our perspective may be temporally and culturally biased? Furthermore, in our interactions with curators and other stakeholders, how do we verbalize expectations for paper tone after treatment given the limitations of a common descriptive language, and for which historical descriptors remain the preferred terminology?

This interactive session seeks to explore the complex decision-making process behind treatments employed to reduce or remove discoloration and staining, and hopes to examine the consequences, intended and unintended. 


avatar for Rachel Freeman-[PA]

Rachel Freeman-[PA]

Associate Paper Conservator, Art Institute of Chicago
Rachel Freeman is an Assistant Paper Conservator at the Art Institute of Chicago. As the museum’s sole conservator dedicated to the treatment of Asian prints and paintings, she has been involved with the conservation of Japanese prints, East Asian scrolls and screens, ancient... Read More →
avatar for Cyntia Karnes-[PA]

Cyntia Karnes-[PA]

Paper Conservator, Art Gallery of Ontario
Cyntia Karnes is a Paper Conservator at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, where she also has a private conservation practice. Previously she was a Senior Paper Conservator at the Library of Congress, following positions at the National Gallery of Art in D.C., and the... Read More →
avatar for Stephanie Lussier, [PA]

Stephanie Lussier, [PA]

Paper Conservator, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Stephanie M. Lussier is the conservator for works on paper and photographs at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Stephanie is interested in interdisciplinary projects that enhance the dialogue among conservators and allied professionals. She is actively engaged in education... Read More →

Tuesday May 17, 2016 2:00pm - 4:00pm EDT
Room 510