Treating a Work of Art on Paper: Richard Serra’a Oteiza

David Chandler, Chief Conservator of Works of Art on Paper, recently treated an etching by American contemporary minimalist sculptor and artist Richard Serra. The work, titled Oteiza, was bought to The Center with a rather large and unsightly scrape of grey latex paint across the upper left of the piece. The paint compromised both the printed and white paper areas.

(Above) Before treatment, the etching was deformed by a large swipe of grey paint on the upper left corner.

After initial testing, it was determined that a combination of aqueous solutions (in this case, alcohols and non-specific enzymes) would soften the latex paint, allowing the conservators to remove it without damaging the work. Surface cleaning, elimination of the paint damage to both etching and frame and retouching of the black surfaces restored Oteiza back to its pre-damage condition.

(Above) Richard Serra’s Oteiza, post treatment.