Yadine Larochette presented her treatment and mounting of one of Henri Matisse’s large silkscreen prints, Oceanie, le ciel, printed in 1948 by Zika Ascher. The print, made with oil-bound pigments on dyed linen, measures about 65″ by 144″. Unlike other prints in this series, for which some treatments have been published (see, for example: Vuori, Jan, et al, “Local stain removal from Océanie, la mer by Henri Matisse: the development of a reducing bleach technique using a suction disk, ultrasonic mister, and airbrush, “ in Conservation combinations: preprints of a conference: North American Textile Conservation Conference 2000, Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.A., March 29 to 31, 2000), this print had never been mounted. Its owners wanted to display it, which presented Yadin with the challenge of mounting it securely while still retaining the qualities and stability of the silk-screened surface.
To do this, she used what paintings conservators call a “loose lining.” She had a fine woodworker, Robert Espinoza, make a strainer with a slightly rounded edge. On top of the strainer she secured Coroplast and polyester felt. After experimenting and testing different fabrics for the support, or lining, she selected a wide, heavy scenery muslin from Dharma Trading Company that she then brushed to give it a bit of nap. (I’ve used this fabric as well and have found it has a tendency to become “nappy” even with just machine-washing. For some uses this is a disadvantage, but for this project, it was an advantage.) This nap would help to hold the print in place. She stapled the muslin to the strainer and then stitched the perimeter of the print to the muslin. After covering the edges of the print with a sheer polyester fabric for protection from the frame, she installed the piece in a frame with acrylic glazing. Before coming to the Annual Meeting, Yadin checked with the owners and was happy to report that they are still pleased with its appearance after three years.
Yadin briefly discussed the surface cleaning and humidification techniques she used for this treatment. She also discussed how the prints came to be made, emphasizing the role of the printer. Her description of this part of the story showed her fondness for the print.
During Yadin’s talk, we also learned that Patsy Orlofsky and Mary Kaldany of the Textile Conservation Workshop, South Salem, NY are preparing an article for JAIC on their treatments of five of these prints. It will be interesting to learn how another lab has treated these wonderful pieces.