Academic thesis

Eva Janssen: "The sacred white" as a challenge for restoration. Treatment concept for an early object of Ilya Kabakov Back
Language: Original   -   Translation
Abstract: This Master-Thesis deals with the difficulties encountered when restoring a damaged lacquered surface. The starting point of the research has been the three-dimensional object “Pipe, Stick, Ball and Fly” by the Russian artist Ilya Kabakov from 1966. The lower edge of the object shows surface defects and many altered retouches affect the overall appearance of the shiny white surface.
The thesis approaches the difficulty of restoration of the object by elaborating on the artistic intentions and by looking at it in the context of its historical environment.
Techniques and materials used by the artist as well as Kabokov’s own statements regarding his “white pieces of work” build the basis of the treatment concept.
The debate regarding the extend of damage and its conservational treatment focuses on repairing the surface defects and on removing of the retouches. Tests show that it is possible to remove the retouches which badly affect the aesthetic appearance of the work with a dissolvent. To repair the surface defects, adequate filler is determined by a series of tests. A retouch and the application of an acrylic resin followed by polishing results in the desired colour and brings gloss to the addition.


Keywords: Kabakov, lacquer, white, filler
  • academic institution: HAWK Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaft und Kunst Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen
  • kind of theses:  Masterarbeit
  • main Tutor:  Prof. Dr. Michael von der Goltz
  • assistant Tutor:  Prof. Dr. Henrik Schulz
  • date:  2009
  • Language:  German

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