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Diploma thesis: The Painting Technique of Max Uhlig - A Dialogue between Artist and Conservator

Thesis by Anja Wolf
Hochschule für Bildende Künste
Dresden Conservation of Art and Cultural Heritage
Completed June 2002
 
The theoretical part of my diploma thesis ‘The Conservation of Three Canvas Paintings by Max Uhlig’ is entitled ‘The Painting Technique of Max Uhlig – A Dialogue between Artist and Conservator’. As a part of my diploma at the HfBK, three canvas paintings of the Dresden painter and professor of painting Max Uhlig are going to be treated. Each painting shows an individual phenomenon of damage. The first painting (dating from 1977) has two tears within the textile support. The second painting (1995) consists of various paint layers that did not dry yet. In some areas there are parts of a foam rubber packaging sticking in the soft surface. The third painting (1976-1987) was, together with numerous other pictures of the artist, damaged during a severe fire at the artist’s studio in 1996. The matte painting surface shows an unequal yellow-brownish discoloration caused by soot. As an effect of the great heat during the fire, the whole painting surface is covered with blisters.
 
The theoretical part of the thesis will describe the painting technique of the artist. Besides the description of the used painting materials special focus will be put on the preparation steps, the choice of the motive, the use of sketches or other supporting constructions as well as the event of painting itself. There will also be a discussion on the influences of former and today’s colleagues of the artist regarding the painting method and the materials used.
 
The last part of the theoretical work is dedicated to the concerns of the conservator. Appearance features characterising the paintings of Max Uhlig will be described. They can play an important role in the conservation, e.g. when it comes to water soluble paint layers, scratches and parts of plants in the paint layers which are caused by the origin of numerous paintings in the landscape and the powerful painting method. Max Uhlig shows a big interest in actively supporting the thesis. During a comprehensive artist’s interview he will explain the making of the pictures and give some information about the used materials. As a very lucky fact, the artist still has examples of paints and binding media, brushes, canvas etc. of all of his painting periods.
 
Max Uhlig is also involved in the conservation process. He knows about the aspired conservation steps and I had the opportunity to explain the stage of conservation we are striving for and come to an agreement about the appearance after the conservation. Before doing the interview I contacted the Restaurierungszentrum Düsseldorf, which is a partner of the INCCA project. Participating conservators in this project are involved in the conception and planning of artists’ interviews. The structure of the interview will be based on their knowledge and experience.
 
Afterwards all data concerning the painting technique but also the conservation of works of Max Uhlig will be transferred to the INCCA Database of Artists’ Archives.
 
For questions or more information, please, contact Anja Wolf.

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