As in all things, time and attention bring about change, and Permalac is no different. While people from all parts of the globe use the Permalac family of products for everything from monuments to jewelry, bare skin automobiles to interior décor, there is always room to gain knowledge while serving our great customers.
And so it is in the world of art, sculpture and its artisans. In May of this year, a study by the J. Paul Getty Museum learned quite a bit by restoring the “Personnage.” The findings were presented at the annual conference of AIC The American Institute for Conservation.
As many, many of our users are familiar with the protection efforts and ease of use of our product Permalac; the individuals performing the study must have taken away some interesting facts.
Here’s an excerpt from the remarks presented by the four historians who worked on the project. It explains the early aspects of the study and why the sculpture was showing signs of improper maturation.
The J. Paul Getty Museum has carried out a technical study and treatment of Joan Miró’s outdoor bronze sculpture entitled Personnage (designed 1976, cast 1985). Brought into the conservation lab to address issues with surface efflorescence of core material and to restore aged, protective coatings, a multitude of issues were raised surrounding its history of manufacture, complex scientific analyses of the coatings, and challenging treatment options. Examination of the Getty cast, fabricated at Fonderia Bonvicini in Verona in 1985, revealed significant differences from earlier casts and the complicated edition history was clarified through dialogues with the foundry, archival research, and x-radiography. The paper will review quantitative analysis of the bronze alloys with XRF, complemented by trace elemental analysis with ICP-MS. The work contributes reference data for comparison with other Miró bronzes and introduces difficulties found in the detection of elements in modern silicon bronze alloys using a handheld XRF system alone. The early stages of the treatment involved the removal of aged coatings using solid carbon dioxide blasting and solvent cleaning with the aid of FTIR analysis to identify the removal layer-by-layer. A range of maintenance waxes, a previously undocumented partial Incralac coating, and underlying earlier coatings were characterized, along with their solubilities, in the course of the treatment.
Once the actual restoration work was underway, some very interesting observations emerged. Here’s more on the findings:
Fully stripped as much as possible, the olive green and black patina on the surface of the bronze appeared mottled and disturbed since the porosity of the casting allowed salt migration and localized corrosion. An acrylic lacquer, called Permalac, was initially chosen as it now supplies a range of complementary products that would allow for reintegration, including toned lacquers. Issues with poor adhesion were immediately apparent despite utilizing the manufacture’s recommended guidelines for coating application.
The experience led to the development of a more extensive methodology to evaluate the adhesion and quality of a test coating using ASTM standards that were modified for use on outdoor sculpture. The process included testing of several different coating mixtures and application protocols on both copper coupons and the sculpture itself. The approach revealed interesting information regarding the effects of diluents and drying times on the performance of the film. The analysis and the treatment reinforced the need for constant adaptation, with several cycles of scientific analysis and treatment testing yielding incremental improvements in the performance and appearance of the surface coating. It is hoped that this methodology, including the protocols used for testing, can be applied to other outdoor bronze treatments and that technical data amassed can contribute to the growing body of literature on Miró outdoor sculpture and contemporary bronze casting.
While the commentary states that there were issues with adhesion, the concerns were with the metallic makeup of the piece, and the combination of external weather conditions was the culprit.
As a result of these findings and working with the team from the J.P.G Museum, the Permalac knowledge bank received another great deposit for future restoration projects. While our product is an amazingly simple and reliable product for almost every form of metalwork constructed, considered being built or merely at the napkin stage, existing metalworks that have been treated by other restorative or sealants might require some laboratory adjustments. That’s the amazing thing about Permalac and Peacock Labs; we are willing and close at hand for consultations with our clients for their best interests.
About the Artist
Miró is one of those very few artists who mastered everything he tried — painting, murals, printmaking, costume design, poetry, sculpture, and ceramics. Apart from his compatriot Picasso, no other artist in the 20th century has shown such versatility and invention across so wide a range of media. In order to realize his creative vision exactly, Miró made sure he was involved in every aspect of his sculpture’s production. He worked closely with the foundries and distinguished different forms of patina between each of the firms he used. Personnage was cast by the lost-wax process at Fonderia Artistica Bonvicini in Verona. – Christie’s Auction House
Whether new or restoration is your next project, it’s always a great idea to consider Permalac family of products. If the J. Paul Getty Museum can trust its quality and durability, so can you. We look forward to hearing from you about your latest project, or a project of which you are considering. Please feel free to leave a comment, and one of our specialists will be happy to advise you or include you in our monthly contest. Who knows, you might make into the newsletter as a winning project feature.