H. de Roos - The critique of the toronto exhibition
DISCUSSIONS WITHIN THE CURATORIAL TEAM
Five of the exhibited plasters are considered as damaged to various degrees by the curatorial team itself – a fact I only learned of two weeks before the symposium was to take place:
Of the fifty-four plasters in the exhibition, only five
are impaired to any significant degree.
[From a letter from William Moore to Toronto Globe, 25
As I was told, there has been an internal dispute if they should be shown at all. In the end, it was decided they should be presented as documents of Rodin´s working process – a decision one may question (especially if we doubt Rodin ever lived to see these plasters) but obviously has not been taken without discussion and thought.
Also the question of the conservation had been a subject
of discussion in the staff team.
(..) many of plasters arrived to Canada in two separate
shipments - one in February 2001 and then another shipment in late May
2001. This said, there was not enough time for the conservators to do
extensive conservation [i.e. the complete removal of lacquer] in time for
the exhibition which opened in September 2001. It was my decision to have all
the pieces cleaned [removal of grime, dirt, dust, etc] and have any
structurally sensitive repairs done as opposed to just concentrating on
only a few pieces with a higher level of conservation.
Yes, initially there was the intent to return the plasters back to the pristine white surfaces in order to reflect what they looked like when they originated. However as I discussed it more with Colin Wiginton [the co-curator on the project] we decided to be "conservative" if you will, with the conservation. We became interested in the functional use and physical history of these works. It was through this dialogue that our thesis for the exhibition at the ROM was born.
In William’s defence, he and David Schaff have
implored me to do a more extensive cleaning of these works [i.e. removing
the lacquer]. But removing lacquer is certainly much different than simply
removing surface dirt and grime. Surface dirt and grime are built up over
time passively. Lacquer is applied with a certain intent, purpose
and outcome and I want to know what these are - as I have explained to you
in a previous email.
At the Toronto symposium, Alexandra Parigoris quoted the example of a Picasso creation that had been gathering dust for years in an forgotten corner of his Paris atelier, before it was thoroughly cleaned for an exhibition – and looked strangely out of place afterwards.
And since the amount of dirt and grime built up on the Maclaren plasters seems to have been a useful indication of their age (see Chapter 6), we might even question the decision to do any cleaning at all, before other experts did have the chance to examine this phenomenon with scientific methods.
Museum logos appear only as buttons linking to Museum Websites and do not