| In The Lab

Paintings Conservation

The paintings curriculum allows students to pursue their interest in Old Master paintings, paintings on canvas, and modern and contemporary paintings and painted surfaces. Every paintings major takes at least one class in the Kress Paintings Conservation program. Subsequent foundation courses expose students to the structural treatment of canvas paintings, the different approaches to damages such as tear repair, flattening of distorted supports, humidity treatments, consolidation of paint and ground layers, strip lining, the preparation of the lining canvas, lining reversals and re-stretching, as well as cleaning and inpainting techniques. The procedures learned and/or demonstrated depend on the condition of the particular paintings available. In addition, students are expected to take a course introducing them to the technical connoisseurship of European and American paintings, taught by Dianne Dwyer Modestini using the vast collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In order to accommodate the growing interest in the conservation of modern and contemporary paintings, courses have been added that take advantage of the abundance of collections and resources in New York City. Students have treated pictures by established artists, such as Yayoi Kusama, Andy Warhol, Helen Frankenthaler, Will Barnet, Rammellzee, and Esteban Vicente, just to name a few. We are very fortunate to have close connections with the Grey Art Gallery of NYU, which has works from the late 19th through 20th centuries and is particularly strong in mid-century modern, as well as the collections and professionals at MoMA, the Whitney and Guggenheim Museums. Students learn about the techniques and materials that might be used to treat unvarnished paintings and are introduced to the often-unpredictable nature of modern paints.

Students at the advanced level also have the opportunity to create their own individualized coursework. With the guidance of a supervising instructor and the approval of the Chairman, students can work in other museums or private labs in the city, which can expose them to an even wider range of paintings and conservation problems.