the care of art

Art Addict writes an interesting blog about collecting art and has posted several useful articles on the handling, cleaning and displaying of artworks, and a recommended book on the subject.

Kerry at Art Myth writes about the proper care of oil paintings and offers some interesting and useful links about art conservation.

I’d like to add another important consideration in the care of artworks, those that are done on paper, and that concerns the archival issues: are the materials stable and permanent? We know what happens to newsprint which is not acid-free and yellows and deteriorates quickly. Old books are another example. From my own experience as an artist who works mostly on paper, I have sometimes found a lack of understanding amongst some buyers and even some framers about the archival concerns of handling artworks on paper. When I sell an unframed print I try to give a mini-lesson on this issue and encourage using a reputable framer and requesting archival (acid-free) matting and mounting materials.

The choice of acid free papers, adhesives and other materials are really part of the artist’s decision-making right from the beginning, whether making prints, drawings, watercolours, collages, or handmade books. When inkjet printing became popular for everyone, new demands arose. At first it was difficult to find archival papers and inks, but there are many choices available now. Have you thought about what your inkjet photos are printed on? Is your photo album archival? My old ones are not, unfortunately, as it was not a well known issue until recently.

Check out the wealth of information at Wilhelm Imaging Research. They have been conducting intensive tests on traditional papers for many years and “research on the stability and preservation of traditional and digital color photographs and motion pictures. The company publishes brand name-specific permanence data for desktop and large-format inkjet printers and other digital printing devices. Wilhelm Imaging Research also provides consulting services to museums, archives, and commercial collections on sub-zero cold storage for the very long term preservation of still photographs and motion pictures.”

Opus Framing and Art Supplies
provides how-to resources in PDF format on their website. Check out the following helpful articles: Why Frame your Art Work, Notes on Hinging and Digital Fine Art Papers.

No, I’m not promoting any companies here, just their useful information, in the hopes of extending some knowledge about these issues. Of course, there are many artists who are not concerned with the permanence of their works, impermanence sometimes being a statement in itself, and that is fine, as long as the buying public understands these issues.

May 6, 2004 in Care of Art Works by Marja-Leena