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Reply to recent article in the Times on Modern Materials

8 March, 2007 (13:11) | Plastic Arts

Letter to the Editor at the New York Times
The recent article “Paints’ Mysteries Challenge Protectors of Modern Art”, by Randy Kennedy, 2/14/07 provided some very welcome recognition of the research into modern materials that has been ongoing for the last 10 years in earnest by several institutions, including The Getty (Los Angeles), The Tate (London), and the National Gallery (D.C.). Missing was the collaboration of Queen’s University (Ontario), MolArt (Amsterdam) and the University of Turino (Turin). All of these institutions have been quietly investigating modern paints to provide tools and techniques for conservators in how to best care for these materials. Before the 1950’s and for hundreds of years previous, the art of restoration was a trial and error exercise. The hands of even well meaning but unqualified restorers had destroyed many works over this time. It wasn’t until the modern era that conservation science became a serious discipline. As the art market has heated up to stratospheric proportions over the last 50 years, techniques have been refined, improved and tested to give greater assurance that the conservator will do no harm to his or her charge. Fortunately, now the spotlight has been turned to modern materials in recognition that they have come of age and that they are now amongst the most popular products for making art, especially the acrylics.

Unfortunately, the article buries the fact that Dr. Learner and Dr. Schilling “say that their initial findings show that many modern paints, especially acrylics, are more stable in some ways than oils”. This is pretty valuable information for the art consuming public who has generally been quite suspicious of these modern materials. It goes on to suggest that artist paint companies have not been forthright in providing information to these scientists. However, as a company, we have worked over many years with every one of these institutions in providing data, formulas, making custom paints for testing, supporting research and providing all our contacts for them to continue their discussion with others in the field. In further asking Dr. Learner about the quotes attributed to him, he suggested that information about our collaboration with all of these institutions had just been left out of this article. I find this greatly disappointing. While it might not make for scintillating reporting, the fact that a company can be a responsible member of the community it makes products for, could, and indeed should, have been something of interest to your readers. Unfortunately, the context in which our company is mentioned would make it quite easy for your readers to conclude we are one of those companies who have not been of much help. This is far from the truth.
Sincerely, Mark Golden

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Comments

Comment from Adrienne Anderson Smith
Time: March 25, 2007, 3:59 am

Bravo!
It is astounding, and breathtaking how much your industry has advanced over the last 30 years… especially the last 10!
While walking through the office hallway at my daughter’s Catholic School, I noticed an acrylic on canvas painting (~4’X5’) that was ~30 years old. Done mainly with palatte knife it had some very thick points that were cracking and splitting. I have no idea what brand of paint was used, but working with yours, I know how that disaster could be avoided now.
After attending many of your company’s Golden Lectures, in Seattle and Bellevue, leaving with my head “spinning” at the wonderful, generous information, I have decided that my theme to paint the Pike Place Market Centennial Pig, that I was contracted for, will be to show your textures – molding and crackling pastes, pumice gels, layering gels, etc..
My theme is “Rockin’ Pig” – a 4.5’ tall, seated pig, covered with “rock faces” of varying texture, emotion and personality. http://www.artbyadrienne.com/morerocks.htm I can see no better way to display a rock!
Now, my question is: would GAC 200 be the proper “primer to the primer” of black gesso? Before painting directly on the fiberglass, it seems that there should be a bonding solution before the gesso.
Many thanks for continuing to tantalize my creativity.
God be with you.

Comment from Adrienne Anderson Smith
Time: March 30, 2007, 4:36 am

Thank you very much. I shall.
– Adrienne

Comment from Mark D. Gottsegen
Time: April 4, 2007, 5:47 am

Mark,

Your letter was very well put! Really.

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