How the Guggenheim Is Restoring Two Pivotal Braque Paintings

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Georges Braque’s Violin and Palette (autumn 1909) broke new ground by representing for the first time a trompe-l’oeil element in a composition painted in the Cubist style. Along with Piano and Mandola (winter 1909–10)—both canvases in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection—it has been undergoing conservation treatment, revealing previously obscured details of color and form.

 

Careful examination of Braque’s most pristine Cubist paintings reveals his keen awareness of the range of surface qualities of his paints, which he typically left unvarnished. Unfortunately, insensitive treatments completed on both of these paintings in the 1950s resulted in the wax infusion of their fine-linen canvases and the deposit of superficial residues that homogenized Braque’s subtle surfaces. Over time the wax has discolored, further compromising the paintings’ intended appearance.

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