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Restoring Historic Art

March 1st, 2011 • by Sandy Zimmerman

“Restoring Ancient Art”

By Sandy Zimmerman

(Photos by Sandy Zimmerman except the Before and After shots.)

Marcin Szymczkowski, the owner of Atelier for Fine Art, is a man who has an unusual profession

restoring and conserving fine art, museum pieces, antiques, sculptures, gold leafing, touch ups,

and frescos.

BEFORE

AFTER

You must have seen these men depicted in films and on television programs in an honored

tradition dating back to early times.

Today they work for private collectors, institutions, auction houses,

and museums to preserve our heritage.

Marcin explained, “You have to like what you do, passion is the most important thing.”

He travels around the world to attend symposiums in order to learn the latest scientific

restoration and preservation techniques.

BEFORE

AFTER

It is exciting work as each day is different.

Marcin seems to like challenges as he restores different types of fine art.

He feels, “The restoration of paper is very important because paper is the first document that

disappears when involved with light.

We still care about paper because electronics will not replace it.”

Marcin emphasized, “The first and most important thing is that we must NOT do anything to do

any more damage.

Second, all of the work MUST be reversible.

These are expensive art pieces and antiques that are centuries and centuries old.

We have to preserve them and make sure there is no damage.

Everything we put on has to be very simple to take off.

For example, if we repair a 19th century oil painting, the first step is always cleaning to determine

the original color.

Sometimes under the old varnish it is dark brown and you can’t see the artist’s signature.

is in 3-4 stages depending upon the condition of the painting.

Please Note:  Discover the Ultimate’s Las Vegas reviews chose this subject as a unique occupation, a man of the past.


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Restoring Historic Art (Continued)

(Photos: Below- BEFORE, Above- AFTER)

With water damage, I have to be very

careful when removing the water and all

the residue.

Oil paintings are usually based on organic

pigments.

We have to go to a general laboratory to

 find out the type of pigment in order to

that the repair will be aging the same way

 as the picture.

If we use a different pigment no one will

notice for the first couple of years

but later temperature and humidity

changes the painting.

Marcin discussed tips for protecting

your paintings.

"Because mold and humidity is trapped

 behind paintings, you have to give them

room for the

circulation of air around them.

Do not hang your paintings where it could

be affected by sunlight or moisture from a

window.

It is important to set the same temperature

in the room during the summer and

winter.

Cover your pictures with a non-breakable

acrylic instead of glass in case they fall

 from the wall,

the pieces of glass would not harm them."

Marcin pointed to an older traditional

microscope with different eye pieces but

 technology has changed.

"Today we don't use the microscope

anymore because it does not give the

full spectrum.

Now we use electronics and computers,

an easier way of viewing the spectrum

from infrared to

radioscopy.

There are labs which can test and provide

 the results in a couple of days.

Most of the time the original materials are

not available anymore so I must re-create

the exact

look and feeling of the original."

He recently repaired an 18th century

elephant tusk matching the grain exactly

where no one could

see the difference after the restoration.

Legal documents are kept showing any

 work which was done and the date of

each of the repairs.

He is also required to keep all of

repairs confidential.

Marcin and all of the people involved in

profession are told not to create any

their own art

work until they retire because their ability

 to duplicate every stroke of an expensive

oil painting

may be affected even subconsciously.

Antique dining rooms and other furniture

are placed for show in museums and the

repairs are only cosmetic because no one

will be using them but

300-400 year old furniture can be used in

your home with a finish to preserve them

 which could be used later.

In my travels I am always awed by the

masterpieces of ancient civilizations which

 were constructed without the machinery

 and any equipment we have today.

If you wish to ask about repairs,

appraisals for insurance, restorations or

have any questions,

call for an appointment 315-2888.

www.art-restoration.info