Lecture | Surface matters – The difference between creating and recreating
Abstract | Apart from the obvious differences between creation and recreation, conservators dealing with Contemporary Art often have to inpaint, imitate and sometimes recreate entire surfaces that were originally industrially produced or do not show any traces of the artist’s hand. Like in the conservation of Old Masterpieces, we have to try to imitate the artist’s gestures and intention so that the treated areas visually merge with the original and do not distract the overall impression of the work. The less traces of the artist’s hand visible and the more monochrome the surface of an art work, the more difficult its recreation. The fewer visible traces of the artist’s hand and the more monochrome the surface of an artwork, the more difficult it is to recreate.
In the case of a “silver painting” by the Italian artist Rudolf Stingel, we find ourselves in a gray zone between the mechanically produced and the painted painting. The paintings of this series are executed in a combination of traditional and modern painting materials such as oil and canvas on the one hand and imprints of industrially produced tulle fabric and sprayed on heat pipe enamel on the other. In a technique that one could refer to as “enhanced-silkscreening”, the artist creates paintings depicting fine, precise imprints of the fabric pattern with traces of sprayed on silver metallic paint.
This talk will discuss the difficulties in treating damage to such a surface, including the different concepts, failures, and successes that were encountered. During this treatment a a few modern (conservation) materials and modifications of existing materials and well-known techniques were applied not only to imitate a technique, but also to attempt to capture an attitude.
Curriculum Vitae | Johanna Hoffmann studied Conservation of Painting and Sculptures at the Cologne Institute for Conservation Sciences. Her main field of interest is in art materials and their meaning. She wrote her thesis on a work by Joseph Beuys, focusing on felt as an art material. After treating the Beuys at Museum Kunst Palast in Duesseldorf, she started working for Andreas Hoppmann Conservation in Cologne. She was hired by Contemporary Conservation Ltd. in New York in 2005, where she currently holds the position of Chief Conservator. During her years at Contemporary Conservation, she has treated and done research on works of art by many renowned as well as emerging modern and contemporary artists, such as Warhol, Palermo, Murakami, Fritsch, Walker and Guyton, spanning a broad range of art materials from paint on canvas to chocolate silk-screen on ink-jet to industrially produced metal surfaces and human bones. Johanna Hoffmann has given lectures and participated in panels at international conferences and art institutions.