specialists in conference at the graphic art conservation
studio. Studio head Inna Bykhovskaya presents her work. 1976
The focus of the studio is
preventative conservation of the paper base of graphic artworks. This implies,
first, a battery of proactive measures aimed at eliminating or minimizing
harmful external influences and securing the long-term stability of the paper:
reducing acidity to a level close to neutral, strengthening the paper base and
boosting its resilience to external mechanical impact, and preserving the
whiteness. The studio for the conservation and restoration of graphic art bases
its work on the philosophy and methods developed by the Grabar Russian National
Research Center for the Conservation of Art. The studio’s conservation
specialists follow the traditional approach to removing surface pollution from
paper – an operation designed to bring the work closer to its original look and
enhance its resilience to aging. Particularly bad cases of yellow discoloration
also have to be eliminated from the paper.
To some degree, traces of
yellowing can be removed by simply washing the sheet on moistened filter paper.
We know, however, that the yellower the paper, the more harmful products of
oxidization that have to be eliminated. Graphic works with more ingrained yellow
stains will be subjected to chemical treatment (bleaching) with a weak solution
of chloramine-B. Chloramine bleaching will do more than merely purge oxidization
products from the paper: it will suffuse the paper with long-term whiteness and
restore the artwork to its original appearance – all this without affecting the
texture of the paper.
In addition to conservation,
sometimes restorers have to replace fully or partially lost paper. To restore
mechanical damage to the paper base of a graphic artwork -- such as tears,
creases, or complete disintegration -- the Russian Museum’s graphic art
conservation team will use flour glue and carefully select their replacement
paper to resemble the original as closely as possible in texture and quality.
They also use mica paper, filter paper, Japanese vellum, chromography paper, and
other kinds. One of the most common and traditional methods of strengthening
fragile paper is reinforcing the paper base with an additional sheet. This
method both preserves a high degree of paper elasticity and is good for fixing
rigid deformations of the paper, usually caused by flawed mounting. In most
cases, mica paper or long-fiber paper is used for backing.
Perhaps the greatest
challenge for our conservation specialists is restoring graphic works from the
Soviet period, specifically those made from 1917 through the 1930s, as these
works were typically created on paper containing lignin and use mixed media and
inferior adhesives (such as silicate-based glue). Another significant challenge
is posed by graphic works from the 1980s through the first decade of this
century, which often permitted egregious violations of basic technical
principles, or incorporated materials of inferior quality: poor-quality paper,
synthetic adhesives, adhesive tape, and so forth.