VISART - Contemporary Art Conservation

About the project

Cultural heritage has become a safe brand during the last 10-15 years. When you are a part of the cultural policies, creative industries, restoration, preservation or research of cultural fields, it is always recommended to mention in your agenda the protection of cultural heritage. This concept is a two-faced coin: on one hand the good face – the restoration, preservation, dissemination of the immense treasure of artifacts, knowledge, traditions, both material and immaterial patrimony that thousands of years of history have stored in the warehouses of humankind; on the other hand the dark side of the coin – neglect towards the cultural patrimony that the mankind is building up right now, mistrust for the cultural and artistic value of the present. According to an almost general idea, contemporary artists are less or even unable to produce master pieces and this go hand in hand with the opinion that every epoch is good if it is old enough. The project enforces a treasure of information and experience generated by decades of researches for cultural heritage conservation as a first input for an extended research to new materials stability, to more polluted urban environment stress, to specific degradation mechanism understanding and preventive conservation application to contemporary art. It is focuses om the research of non-traditional materials widely used in the contemporary art, such as acrylics, vynil, or synthetic resins. Also, it shows the same interest for the specific techniques that involve those materials.

Project operates with a competent and very active consortium for a challenging topic, like scientific based modern materials’ life limits and degradation mechanism, that is an important subject of debate of all visual art creators and not only. The involvement of the practitioners (contemporary artists) is a strong specific of this project and will help the building of an inside point of view on the issue.

We dare to remark that the project is facing a hard work which for sure will point good aspects and bad aspects in connection with real practice. This project is prepared to find, understand and report all conclusions. As many of us noted, any research program is represented by projects with successful confirmation of estimated results. Like “happy end stories”, many projects are looking and putting in light positive conclusions, and rarely display and underline negative aspects which are as useful as important information. To be warn how not to do, or what do you risk improperly using a technique or a material, could be more important than to be only adviced about correct use of another technology or material.

The number of variables that could affect any contemporary art piece from modern material structures is exponentially increased than in traditional situation. Classic considerations when about restoration are also supported by much information when the restorer puts the work (object or monument) into the context of its creation. This will be almost impossible about contemporary art when its restoration time will come.

General objective

General objective of the project is to create a new scientific approach in contemporary visual art and to start up an advance form of specialization in restoration/conservation based on rigorous organized information about new materials and techniques, all with full and deep respect for contemporary artists and their production. The general objective is absolutely thought not to constrain the artists’ practice, but to inform them and to create necessary set ups and information database as decisive information for the restorers’ community of tomorrow. Project will not act as supporter of any preliminary opinion, but envisages to elaborate main instruments for errors identification and for right evaluation of proposed products, aiming to enrich artists’ knowledge for informed decision and finally to protect their creations. The project is talking for the very first time in Romania about the support of visual arts in this way, preventing unwished degradations, eliminating - at least partly – the risk factor, and mainly thinking the project results for future use. Of course, the project results will help any restoration intervention of already existing artworks in need, but especially it is a project that support visual arts’ creators to increase their products value including material quality beside priority aesthetical values.

Studied subject is of high interest and of high complexity, as long a severe inspection of material and immaterial factors will be developed. Does not matter how much patience exists, in front of a too complicated mathematical equation, the main mistake is to try to solve it with classic methods. The solution for the very complicate equation of all aggressive factors over a contemporary artwork – most probably- will be unrealistic one. This is why the present project is trying to simplify the equation working on removing as many stressing factors as possible.

  • The project will develop technical studies of materials and their deterioration, including the characterization of non-traditional material and artists' reworking compositions – all representing data that are crucial for facilitating the decision-making processes involved in any conservation intervention;
  • The project inform about conservation practice possibilities therefore include material studies (of pigments, binder and coatings), as well as the information gathered from the technical study of important paintings, or groups of works by one artist;
  • The project will create strong links with traditional conservation practice; Project assists conservators' and art historians' interpretation of changes in materials, thus
  • facilitating a notion of the outcome of the passage of time on the appearance of artwork;
  • Comparative cleaning techniques and methods (solvents, laser, enzimes etc.), decontamination methods;
  • The accelerated ageing study on contemporary artwork materials and relationship between natural ageing and the material changes, comparisons with other known materials’ evolution.