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Seeing in Different Ways: A Liz Magor Backpack Project
Seeing in Different Ways:
A Liz Magor Backpack Project

Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events

Conservation Corner Back

Movie Posters: The Case
Against Canvas Backings

by Rebecca Pavitt
Pacific Conservators

Movie posters fall into that large class of collectables called ephemera – materials which were never intended to last. They are usually printed on thin paper folded for shipping, and hung temporarily with pins, tape or paste. On rare occasions movie posters have survived without having been displayed at all, and are in pristine condition. Caches are also periodically found between studs and under floors during home renovations, used by builders as cheap fill or insulation. The condition of these finds can vary from excellent to terrible.

Theatre exterior

Original folds in poster, before treatment

Grid detail

Folds have been pressed out, but lines are still visible, preserving historical information.

Very different customs and standards have dictated the presentation and preservation of posters than those used for art and archival collections. Many dealers feel that linen backing enhances the value and durability of the product. It certainly allows them to be handled and displayed more easily than unbacked sheets. Yet heavy backings change the character of the poster entirely. Original folds are pulled completely out, removing historical evidence of how they were shipped. The visual and tactile character of a thin, loose sheet of paper is lost. The poster becomes a kind of two-dimensional wallpaper mural.

For most paper conservators, backings are considered only as a last resort for papers that are extremely weak due to past environmental degradation. Even poor quality papers can, with proper handling, storage, framing and display, survive very well without backing. When the paper’s condition is so poor that it does require additional support, thin Japanese tissues pasted to the reverse add strength without altering the paper’s character. More often, backings are unnecessary, and foldlines can be flattened (not removed) with a simple humidification and press between blotters. Tears can be mended with thin strips of Japanese paper, a minimal intervention.

Posters can also be preserved without any treatment at all, by simply sandwiching them between two sheets of polyester film (Mylar D or Melinex 516), a completely reversible process called encapsulation.

As movie posters command ever increasing prices in the marketplace, it is my hope and expectation that the “less is more” conservation ethic that dominates treatments in the art world will be adopted by collectors and dealers of movie posters.

For more information visit the FACTS (Fine Art Care and Treatment Standards) website at www.artfacts.org.

Previously: Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protection
Next Issue: The Difference Between Metal Lead and Gold Leaf

 Mon, Mar 27, 2006