Ex­hibit ex­plores eth­i­cal choices in art restora­tion

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - By Jeanne Claire van Ryzin jvan­ryzin@states­man.com

Old Master paint­ings prove a chal­lenge to mu­se­ums — how to con­serve 400-year-old art with­out ru­in­ing its in­tegrity with con­tem­po­rary in­ter­ven­tions?

“Restora­tion and Rev­e­la­tion: Con­serv­ing the Suida-Man­ning Col­lec­tion,” an ex­hibit now at the Blan­ton, ex­plores the eth­i­cal and aes­thetic choices in­volved in art restora­tion and con­ser­va­tion, in par­tic­u­lar the Old Master paint­ings and draw­ings from the mu­seum’s famed Suida-Man­ning Col­lec­tion.

Us­ing the re­cently re­stored 17th-cen­tury paint­ing “The Death of Rachel” by An­to­nio Car­neo as a fo­cal point, the ex­hibit in­ves­ti­gates how cu­ra­tors and con­ser­va­tors wres­tle with the chal­lenges pre­sented by Re­nais­sance and Baroque art­works. When the Blan­ton ac­quired the Car­neo work in 1998, the can­vas had se­vere struc­tural is­sues and paint loss. Restora­tion ef­forts took more than 500 hours and were doc­u­mented with video and pho­tos that are in­cluded in the cur­rent ex­hibit.

In con­junc­tion with the show, “Hol­i­day Fam­ily Days: What’s Old is New Again,” al­lows chil­dren and their adult com­pan­ions to ex­plore the sci­ence of art con­ser­va­tion and how the ma­te­ri­als used to make art can be tricky to pre­serve.

Fam­ily-ori­ented tours, games and hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties al­low all-ages vis­i­tors to see art in a new way.

BLAN­TON MU­SEUM OF ART

An­to­nio Car­neo’s “The Death of Rachel,” circa 1660-1670, is an oil on can­vas from the Suida-Man­ning Col­lec­tion at the Blan­ton Mu­seum of Art. It is in the ex­hibit “Restora­tion and Rev­e­la­tion: Con­serv­ing the Suida-Man­ning Col­lec­tion.”

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