Technique and condition

The support for this collage is a thin hardboard panel. Before 1972 the hardboard had a secondary support of rather crude battens of a roughly hewn wood, glued and pinned to the perimeter of the hardboard on the reverse. At this time it exhibited a general concavity. Due to the warp and the risk of flexing when handled, a protective frame and additional battening was added in 1972. This system could again be improved upon to provide more support and to help slow down the degradation of the hardboard as a result of acidity in the atmosphere.

The collage is constructed using paint and paper collage materials. The layering and distribution of the support, undercoat, paper and paint is extremely varied. The collage takes the form of cut and torn pieces of thick and thin paper, card, stencil, printed paper and corrugated paper. The application of the collage pieces with cow glue has been very rapid. There are remnants of paper where the artist appears to have changed his mind about the positioning of some of the pieces after he had glued them down and subsequently peeled them off.

The paint is applied in a very fluid and broad manner both before and after the attachment of the collage elements. The hardboard support is left visible in several places in the lower half of the painting. A white undercoat was applied mainly over paper in the top third of the painting but also directly on to the hardboard in places. The paint medium is difficult to identify through visual means alone. In places it has the appearance of poster paint but it is probably oil paint which has been heavily diluted with white spirit and has soaked into the unprimed hardboard. There is a considerable variety in the degree of gloss and surface texture both as a result of the degree the paint has been diluted and of the different surfaces it is applied to. Where it has been applied over the white emulsion it has more of the visual characteristics of an oily glaze.

There is no surface coating but there are localised areas where the surface is glossy.

The overall condition of the collage is fair. The paint is extremely underbound and prone to flaking in some areas. Delamination of collage pieces has got worse since 1972. There are several gouges and scuffs in the paint, paper and hardboard, however it is difficult to ascertain the status of all of these damages because the state of the paper and hardboard when the artist chose to use it is difficult to assess. There is a piece of paper material missing. The dust and dirt on the surface of this collage is masking the depth and richness of the blues and reducing the brightness of the light coloured areas.

Elisabeth Reisser
February 2000