Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

Conserving *The Swimming Pool*

Conserving The Swimming Pool 6911

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). The Swimming Pool (La Piscine), late summer 1952. Maquette for ceramic (realized 1999 and 2005). Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on painted paper. Overall 73 x 647” (185.4 x 1653.3 cm). Installed as nine panels in two parts on burlap-covered walls 136” (345.4 cm) high. Frieze installed at a height of 65” (165 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs Bernard F. Gimbel Fund, 1975 © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

GLENN LOWRY: In 2008, Senior Conservator Karl Buchberg proposed the ambitious conservation of Matisse’s The Swimming Pool. The effort had three goals:

KARL BUCHBERG: The first goal of the conservation process is to return the color balance of this work [to] white, blue, and tan from its altered white, blue, and orange-brown. The second goal is to install the work at its proper height.The third goal is to recreate the room in its original architecture.

GLENN LOWRY: With these goals in mind, Karl began the lengthy and exacting work of conservation. Take a look at the burlap behind the white paper. The burlap onto which the work was first mounted was so discolored that Karl had to replace every inch of it. About 54 feet of burlap had to be removed first.

KARL BUCHBERG: In certain panels I pulled off the burlap thread by thread by thread. In panels where the adhesive didn't allow the threads to be pulled off as nicely, I scraped it off, square by square by square, for thousands of hours.

GLENN LOWRY: Rather than gluing the forms onto the new burlap, Karl used pins just as Matisse once had, thus restoring the work more closely to its original appearance in the artist’s dining room.

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