25 Jul 2007

Caring for artworks

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

With mega bucks involved, it is important to take care of one’s artworks to safeguard their investment potential. A badly preserved work of art - for instance with faded paint, crease marks, torn edges, holes, or any other kind of damage will reflect in its resale price. These days, artists too are more quality-conscious and are ensuring that the quality of art materials they use meet international standards, which are likely to withstand normal wear and tear due to ageing and exposure to common environmental elements.

Comparatively speaking, oil and acrylic paintings are easier to maintain, whereas paintings and sketches done on paper need to be preserved carefully to avoid damaging them. Most artists now use a good quality acid-free paper to work on, but there is no harm in confirming this with the art gallery or dealer. On your part you can ensure that the framing is done from a good framer who uses the best quality materials in terms of mat, backing board, wood frame and the acrylic or glass cover. It is important that the mat used should be acid-free, since poor quality mats will yellow with age and also become brittle over time, which in turn can affect the painting or drawing. The framer should make sure that the backing board is also of superior quality and will hold the artwork rigidly in place. It is advised that the glass or acrylic front should not be touching the artwork. Also, good quality hardware in the frame and to hang it on the wall will help increase the life of the artwork. As with any artwork, make sure there is a constant temperature in that space, as paper works are even more susceptible to fading due to too much sunlight. Excessive humidity can cause growth of moulds or the paper could wrinkle. Focus or spotlighting is very popular in highlighting art but these can also cause over-heating. Also, ultraviolet rays are known to damage artworks. There are glass fronts available that will filter these rays. All this means spending more money, but then in the long run it is important to conserve and preserve your artwork to ensure their investment value is protected.

(Published in Financial Times)

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