How long before artwork decays?

Conservation Issues

How long before artwork decays?

Postby CalicoFraming » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:59 pm

Am new to conservation issues and understand what I've read about the causes of decay to artwork, but was wondering how long it takes before the mount core starts to brown, or the paper yellows, or whatever.

Excuse the extraordinary generality of this... I know the answer is "it depends", but some sort of rough idea would be good to know... or maybe if someone knows where I can get more comprehensive, detailed info?

many thanks
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Re: How long before artwork decays?

Postby Roboframer » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:12 pm

I'm afraid it really does 'depend' - there are too many factors/permutations to take in to account.

The Fine Art Trade Guild reckon on 35 years for their highest level of framing, but that doesn't mean that in 36 years time the artwork and all the frame components will self destruct because it will 'depend' .....

You could frame something for a customer with the most acid-laden mount board you can buy, stick it to MDF with neat tree sap, use no glass at all and not seal the back of the frame; I could frame the exact same thing with zeolitemicrochambersoakitupandspititout mount board, hinge it to the same with handmade Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste, use 100% UV filtering glass and seal the glass/mount/under mount sandwich with foil tape before sealing the frame back .......

...... but your customer hangs the picture in a corridor with no windows in Orkney and mine hangs it in a Southern facing conservatory on the equator - which will last longest?
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Re: How long before artwork decays?

Postby prospero » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:13 am

Good point there Robo. :D Environment is an often overlooked factor.

Your typical Victorian framed picture might have hung in the same place in a dim sitting room (with no central heating) for 100+ years and not suffered a great deal. Then one day the house gets cleared, contents stored in a shed and the picture goes manky within weeks.

Of course if the picture had been framed using better materials it might have gone manky a bit slower. :P
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Re: How long before artwork decays?

Postby Graysalchemy » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:29 am

Sometimes It doesn't matter how well you protect the artwork, because the artwork has been painted on an unsuitable substrate or with paints with limited longevity.

Artist by and large are there own worst enemy they don't want to spend money on their art but expect large sums of money for their creations.

As my dad would say 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear'.
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Re: How long before artwork decays?

Postby prospero » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:13 am

And another Good Point from AG. :D

A lot of the so-called avant garde artists used any old paint they could lay their hands on. Part of the anarchic nature of their work I suppose.
Some of this stuff is worth millions now and galleries have enormous headaches trying to stop it crumbling away.

David Hockney did a few paintings using the then new medium of acrylic paints. The first acrylics were very dodgy, chemically speaking and there are collectors who watched their ££££££££££ investments shed chunks of paint on a daily basis. :? I believe there were a few lawsuits floating about in the US over that issue.

But some artists actually pay heed to sound preparation of the ground. I reframed a big Thorburn watercolour a while back. The paper (which he would have left for a few months to 'normalise') was mounted onto canvas and stretchers (it was about 4ft long). This would have been done before they painting. Despite having a horrible acidic gold mount, there was no trace of deterioration whatsoever. Colours just as good as the day they were painted. Looked awesome when it got a sheet of Museum glass on it.
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Re: How long before artwork decays?

Postby Graysalchemy » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:47 am

Hockney also liked using new technology colour photocopiers and fax machines. No amount of UV protection will stop the invisible inks used in those from disappearing. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't use news paper :giggle: .

I have an artist who uses wallpaper lining paper, which is yellow before he has started.
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Re: How long before artwork decays?

Postby Roboframer » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:00 am

This is where (it is claimed) artcare boards come in to their own - a capability to protect artwork from itself, to a degree, but far more of one than a board that protects only by staying in the same condition for as long as possible - and artcare boards do that anyway, and better than most.
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Re: How long before artwork decays?

Postby prospero » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:01 am

It's funny, but an artist I knew used to get small prints done on a colour photocopier (When they were a new thing). I used to laminate them for him with textured film. I was a bit iffy about them at the time, so I got a duff copy from him and stuck it in my back window for quite a few months. That window gets all the fierce morning sun. I covered up half of it.

And it never faded a jot. :o


Go figure..... :roll:
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