Tuesday, August 23, 2005

1398 Some one should write this book

She said it for 30 years, and finally wrote it herself, Seeing through paintings, (Yale University Press, 2000). And I had the opportunity to sit in her class this morning at the Rhein Center here at Lakeside. Rustin (Rusty) Levenson lives down the street from me in the summer, but this was my first chance to talk to her--had no idea she was in the art conservation business or that she was a classmate of Hilary Clinton (she didn't tell us, but I saw it on the Internet). Her photo has appeared in Vogue magazine--she was restoring Jackson Pollack's floor. She also wrote two chapters in Expert versus the object edited by attorney Ronald D. Spencer (Oxford, 2004). Here's her recommendation for Floridians with both art to protect and hurricanes on the way.

She provided many interesting anecdotes about her work restoring paintings, and how misinformed many art historians and critics have been in psychologizing the motives and attitudes of the artist based on colors, which have long since changed or faded since the artist's day. (Yellow disappears from green leaving blue trees; pink disappeared from the background of Iris.) She gave us a brief outline of the history of paints, including information on fillers, mediums, permanency, and toxicity of chemicals and compounds.

Tips: she uses brown madder and Prussian green to create black. She says she might use a commercial black once a year. (I like ultramarine blue with burnt sienna).
Has never used: cyan or magenta, the colors you see in your print cartridge.
Loves: Indian yellow--very hot.
Purchase: She likes Pearl Paint supplies in NY, for Golden acrylics.

I asked her if her field was dominated by women, and she thought that might be correct. The field requires art history and chemistry, then an apprenticeship, graduate school and an internship. There is more than enough work for all the professionals in the field. "The museum landscape is littered with paintings needing restoration."

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