Matisse: ‘Conserving the Swimming Pool’

Check out this fascinating walkthrough of the conservation of Matisse’s Swimming Pool at MOMA. It is carefully balanced between the difficulties of the materials, such as the acidity of the background hessian, the considerations for removing the substrate and replacing it with another, taking a turn at authenticity and restoration of artist’s intent – an interesting conundrum.

Refreshingly, it illustrates to the doubting just how those disputed hours on objects are spent: in this instance, taking the backing off, warp by weft. Sometimes, to prevent harm to the object, the only way to go is the long way around.

Feel free to weigh in with your opinion – for instance, how would you have approached the treatment? Was the original idea of changing the jute for another going too far? How do you feel about the pins? I hope they used the original holes, but Karl Buchberg doesn’t say what the pins are made from and it would have been nice to have a discussion about that too. I like the pins, and I think the colour balance is a great improvement to recreating and viewing a more ‘authentic’ rendition of the intimacy of the original in its home setting, but in ethos, it is really no more authentic than the previous display – but that is an argument for you all to debate…
– Isabelle Egan

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