11 Aug 2008

Do's and Don'ts of preserving an artwork

(Nalini S Malaviya)
Once you start collecting art, you should handle them with care and display them in an environment that will help prevent damage to the artworks. Here are a few tips to ensure the paintings last for a long time.

What you should do
  • Always hang them on the wall and use good quality frames
  • Put them up in a constant temperature environment
  • Make sure sunlight does not fall on the paintings directly
  • Artworks look good under spotlights, but colours may fade
  • Always use acid-free mats and backing for the frame
  • Also, make sure the frame is treated for pests
  • Ensure the frame is in contact with the wall surface and not the back of the painting directing
  • The canvas may need to be stretched periodically, especially if some sag becomes visible
  • Remove the glass from the painting and air them on a periodic basis (it prevents moisture spots from developing )
  • Buy works from only those artists who are known to use quality materials
  • Double-check the canvas and quality of paper, especially when buying from new artists who may not have the resources or the expertise to use quality products

What you should not do
  • Never hang the painting on a damp wall
  • Do not place them in the open where rain or sunshine can damage them
  • Do not stack them on the floor against the wall or one on top of another
  • Never put heavy or sharp objects on top of them
  • Never store paintings in a dark, damp storeroom
  • Do not try to clean with chemicals or reapply paint on any damaged surface of the painting

In case a painting does get damaged, take it to the restorers to prevent further damage. In case there is any fungal growth or mould development on the painting, it can spread rapidly and can even damage other artworks that are placed in close proximity. A damaged or a restored painting loses its investment value. Therefore, it is better to take good care of your collection.

(Published in Financial Times)
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