To coat and un-coat: sharing experiences on challenging objects and works of art

Clémentine Bollard, Atelier Curial, Paris, France

Cultural assets made of synthetic materials often show conservation issues related to the condition of their surface. Some can be related to their history and/or to the degradation of the material they are made of, and the need to coat them or un-coat them can be part of the conservation treatment. Discussing the role of patina and the limits of conservation treatments with the owners, as well as tailoring conservation treatments to solve these issues is not always simple, both in the ethical and technical points of view.
This paper aims to develop three case studies where recovering original surfaces or original aspects were a challenge, in the context of a private practice of conservation, where the cultural goods can belong to museums and private collections.
The first case study is a work of Francisco Sobrino made of PMMA, Déplacement Instable A.T.C, which belongs to the artist’s family. The former owner had coated the artwork with green paint, and the family wanted it to recover its original aspect.
The second case concerns a work of Guy de Rougemont, Sans Titre, owned by the Centre National des Arts Plastiques, on which melamine-formaldehyde surfaces were covered in with a silicone-like substance. Parts of the artwork made of painted PVC tubes were also missing and needed to be reproduced and painted.
The third and last case is a set of vases called Vases Combinatoires designed by Ronan Bouroullec and owned by the Centre National des Arts Plastiques, made of filled polyurethane resin which had considerably yellowed and on which brown marks had appeared. The curators did not want to exhibit them in that condition anymore, but indeed wanted to exhibit them again.
The decision made for these three cases will be discussed in this paper, in terms ethics and technique.