Dissertation by Daphne Kyropoulou and Electra Alexopoulou-Parla
General principles of Contemporary Art Conservation and Preservation. The Spermini case, an artifact by Mauricio Cattelan, masks of natural rubber
Eugenia Stamatopoulou and Akis Boyatzis
Technological Institute of Athens, Art Conservation Department
In this thesis we deal with the issue of conservation of contemporary art. Modern artists tend to use completely different materials in order to realize their ideas. As a consequence, modern conservators have to deal with materials such as plastic, rubber and whatever an artist may come up with. The conservation of these materials is an area that hasn’t been explored yet, so there is a significant lack of expertise regarding the conservation of modern artwork. It hasn’t been since the last few years that the international scientific community has focused on the contemporary materials. ‘Spermini’ a work by Mauricio Cattelan, is a representative case of a modern artwork that requires conservation. Thus in this thesis a first approach is attempted regarding the construction materials and the interpretation of this artwork. In addition there is a first application of physicochemical methods of analysis on modern work of art.
The physicochemical methods applied were FTIR and SEM. The results of these analyses revealed very interesting points concerning the construction materials. As a result a theoretical approach of the materials and the constituted elements has been made. Also, we present the most significant conservation methods that are known to be applicable in modern art works, focusing more on those made of plastic and rubber. Consequently a first approach is presented on the conservation method that could be applied to ‘Spermini’.