Les Demoiselles: Conserving a Modern Masterpiece MoMA.org: The Museum of Modern Art Les Demoiselles: Conserving a Modern Masterpiece
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Analysis & Previous Treatments
Previous Treatments

In early 1963 Les Demoiselles d'Avignon underwent a more extensive conservation treatment by Volkmer. The "old and weak" stretcher was replaced with a sturdy expansion-bolt version then in favor because it allowed the gradual adjustment of the canvas tension. Rather than remove the well-adhered Wax Residueglue lining and replace it with a new lining, Volkmer decided to infuse the existing lining with a wax-resin adhesive mixture, which was ironed into the back of the canvas after removing the painting from the stretcher. The rationale for this treatment was that the more inert wax would penetrate the glue and render the canvas less reactive to changes in temperature and humidity. Enough wax resin was used that excess had to be removed from the surface—and, indeed, some remains on the surface today [see: Wax Residue]. Volkmer's 1963 restoration apparently retained some of the retouches done by Keck in 1950, since there is no mention of removing or redoing Keck's inpainting.

Also at this time the painting apparently received a new frame and protective backing. Details concerning the frame upon acquisition are unfortunately sparse. Contemporary accounts of the Doucet collection exhibition at the Seligmann Gallery describe Les Demoiselles d'Avignon in a Legrain steel frame, the same frame in which it arrived at the Museum. Pierre Legrain was the prominent designer and craftsman who designed Doucet's residence in Neuilly, where Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was installed in the entrance to the studio. Since the frame is no longer extant, it is possible that it was deaccessioned when Legrain's Art Deco style went out of favor.

Copyright 2003 The Museum of Modern Art