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Thursday, June 1 • 2:30pm - 4:30pm
(Book & Paper) Art on Paper Discussion Group - Multiple Perspectives on the Treatment of Multiples: Innovative Thinking on the Conservation of Prints

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Multiple Perspectives on the Treatment of Multiples: Innovative Thinking on the Conservation of Prints

Prints, often produced in large numbers, present challenges for the conservator who seeks to treat them, usually in isolation from the rest of an edition. While some examples have been stored within the folds of a portfolio never to see the light of day, others have been significantly altered by long-term display, poor storage conditions, or previous restoration. Once dispersed, their condition can span the gamut from pristine to severely damaged.

How then does the conservator approach the treatment of a single isolated example from within a group of multiples, faced with the fact that the work may appear far different today than it did when first printed? Can we elucidate an artist's intent or surmise the original appearance of a print through comparison with related works? Likewise, the multiple may have sustained damage unique to it alone, appearing far different from others within a series or portfolio. Approaches to treatment can be challenging when one or more prints among a group do not look the same, although originally intended by the artist to be seen together. Is there an implied imperative to unify works that were meant to be viewed in a series?

This interactive discussion will explore the complex considerations given to the conservation and display of multiples that are often dispersed among public institutions and private collections in which their condition, appearance, and visual impact may differ enormously. Speakers will examine how the treatment of a print is shaped not only by its context within an edition or a portfolio, but also by the sometimes-divergent expectations of curators and collectors for its display among related works.

Enlivened by the discussion that will follow, session participants will be asked to contemplate the benefit of looking at multiple print editions before establishing treatment goals for an individual print, the usefulness of technical or material information that may be brought to bear when considering certain treatments, and the relevance of restoring an artist's intent well after prints within an edition or part of a portfolio have been dispersed far and wide.

Singular Problems in Similar Prints: The Treatment of Three 15th-Century Engravings
Judith (Judy) Walsh
Williamstown Regional Art Conservation Center, Member, Board of Trustees; formerly Professor of Paper Conservation, Art Conservation Department, Buffalo State College

Ms. Walsh will present three disparate approaches to the treatment of 15th -century prints.  These prints, each by a different artist or workshop, share similar dates of creation, material features, and types of damage. However, the constraints imposed by their histories, the context of their acquisition and proposed display called for divergent methods to compensate for significant losses. Ms. Walsh will elaborate on the particular importance of collegial discussion and examination of similar prints or related states to establish treatment goals. The subjective treatment decisions mirror decisions routinely made by conservators, demonstrating that all items, even those issued as multiples, necessarily be considered and treated as "unique.”

Editions and Treatment:  Van Gelder Zonen, Arches, Rives, Montval, MBM, …
Sarah Bertalan
Conservator and Consultant for Works on Paper

Ms. Bertalan will discuss how the experience of treatment is enriched when a conservator has the opportunity to treat multiples in a focused and systematic way.  Multiples afford study and documentation of numerous examples of an identical paper, manufacturing process and year of production. The only variable that then informs appearance is history. Ms. Bertalan will draw from her knowledge of prints from the 19th and 20th-centuries, including multiples on Van Gelder Zonen, Arches, Montval, Rives, MBM and other fine papers used for printmaking to discuss their variable condition changes, whether they be subtle or extensive, and how they inform her treatment decisions.

Striking a Harmonious Tone: Wet Treatment of a Modern Print Edition
Anisha Gupta
Andrew W. Mellon Fellow
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Ms. Gupta will present her recent treatment of twenty-four lithographs that comprise Ben Shahn's (American, born Lithuania, 1898 – 1969) Rilke Portfolio (1968). The prints were severely discolored to varying degrees, and the curators felt that the group was unfit for exhibition side-by-side. This necessitated individualized bathing and light bleaching to lighten the paper tones uniformly in batches, and reviewing the series with the curators after each bleaching cycle until acceptable paper tones were reached across the group. Ms. Gupta took spectrophotometer readings before and after treatment to quantify the color changes and to compare quantitative assessments to qualitative visual observation. 

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 Harriet K. Stratis-[PA]

Harriet K. Stratis-[PA]

Stratis Fine Art Conservation LLC, Art Institute of Chicago (Retired)
Harriet Stratis is a paper conservator and technical art historian. In 2017, after 30 years as a museum professional, she established a private practice and is focussed on consulting for museums and private collectors to carry out technical research and/or conservation treatments... Read More →


Sarah Bertalan

Conservator and Consultant, Works on Paper
Sarah Bertalan has more than thirty years of curatorial and conservation experience, specializing in works of art on paper. She has been employed in conservation departments of major institutions. As a conservator in private practice, Sarah has specialized in the work of late nineteenth... Read More →
avatar for Anisha Gupta

Anisha Gupta

Assistant Conservator, American Philosophical Society
Anisha Gupta is the Assistant Conservator for Archival Materials at the American Philosophical Society. She is a graduate of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation where she specialized in works on paper with a minor concentration in photographic materials... Read More →
avatar for Judith Walsh

Judith Walsh

Professor/Educator, Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department State University of New York College at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo State)
Judith Walsh (AIC Fellow) started working in conservation in 1970, repairing books for George Cunha in Topsfield, MA. (His workshop eventually became the Northeast Document Center.) After a short stint in book repair at the Library of Congress and Widenor Library at Harvard, Judy... Read More →

Thursday June 1, 2017 2:30pm - 4:30pm CDT
Michigan 1A-B Concourse Level, East Tower