In 1974, Tate acquired Agnes Martin’s painting Morning made in 1965. In 2000, the work was put on display at the newly opened Tate Modern, where it appeared worn and aged. Noted at the time as having a degraded and dirt-imbibed varnish, many unsuccessful attempts had been made to remove the varnish and restore the surface. In 2010 the painting was released from display for conservation research with the hope that an effective conservation treatment approach could be found . This investigation elucidated the requisite characteristics of Martin’s particular surface aesthetic, this in-turn guiding the conservator towards a successful restoration of the surface of the painting. In this talk Conservator, Rachel Barker describes the technical and aesthetic characteristics of Agnes Martin’s painting and presents the restoration process with the aid of detailed images.
About Conservator Rachel Barker
Rachel Barker has been a conservator specialising in the conservation of modern and contemporary paintings at Tate since 1999. Prior to that she was Winston Churchill Fellow at the National Gallery of Canada specialising in the conservation of contemporary art and previously Conservator of Paintings at Southampton City Art Gallery. From 2010–2011 Rachel completed the conservation of Agnes Martin’s Morning 1965 from Tate’s collection, a challenging treatment which involved the removal of a degraded acrylic surface coating from the delicate surface of the painting. Most recently together with the Rothko Treatment Team, she completed the restoration of the vandalised Rothko Untitled Black on Maroon 1958. Her research interests include ethical considerations when conserving modern and contemporary art.