Picasso and the Conservation Department

A woman was reported to have fallen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and collide with “The Actor” by Picasso (left). The Metropolitan Museum of Art reported that “the damage did not occur in the focal point of the composition” and that the staff of the conservation department would repair the piece before its exhibit in April. As a former intern, I’m happy to see that the conservation staff is finally getting some publicity (despite the unfortunate circumstances). The conservation department employees the masters. Just to give an idea of what master means, a potential applicant of the textile and tapestry department MUST know and be able to produce every single stitch, knot, or sewing technique from every single culture from every period of time. To identify a stitch, one must be able to note the material, the age, how it was treated, AND, when repairing, how to replicate the material, age, and treatment in such a way that the repair is unseen and does not do any damage to the artifact. If the textile was damage in a repeating area, for example, once in the first century AD and once under the eyes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a conservationist must repair as the was received to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The damage repairs from the first century must appear as such to avoid altering history.

Dealers say a painting of this scale and period could be worth well over $100 million.

On Friday afternoon a woman taking an adult education class at the Metropolitan Museum of Art accidentally lost her balance and fell into “The Actor,” right, a rare Rose Period Picasso, tearing the canvas about six inches along its lower right-hand corner. Immediately after the accident the painting was taken to the Met’s conservation studio so experts could assess the damage, museum officials said. A statement released by the Met on Sunday afternoon said, “The damage did not occur in the focal point of the composition and the curatorial and conservation staffs fully expect that the repair — which will take place in the coming weeks — will be unobtrusive.” The canvas — about 6 ½ feet by 4 feet — was hanging on the wall of a second-floor gallery with other early Picassos. The museum declined to identify the woman, but said she was not injured. Picasso created the painting, which depicts an itinerant acrobat theatrically posed, during the winter of 1904-5. Museum officials said they expected the repair to be completed in time for “Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” an exhibition of some 250 works from its collection opening on April 27.

(via The New York Times)


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