Chilean Chapter of Getty’s Conserving Canvas Initiative

Generously funded by the Getty, I was hired as a Specialist Advisor and Lecturer as part of the Chilean chapter of the Conserving Canvas Initiative

Together with my highly respected colleagues Antonio Iaccarino Idelson (Rome, Italy) and Christine Fröhner from (NYC, USA) we gave workshops, lessons, and presentations to approximately 30 conservation professionals from South America in September 2019. 

Christine and I co-lead the specialist meeting and workshop on cleaning and loss compensation techniques for contemporary artworks. We also advised the conservators at the museum on how to treat the surface of the painting ‘Isfahan III’ by Frank Stella.

Click here to learn more about this incredible project.

Click here to access one of my lectures about daylight fluorescent pigments and Stella’s paintings from the 1960s at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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This video shows snapshots from our workshops on treatment methodologies and possibilities regarding the pictorial layer of contemporary artworks with reference to Frank Stella’s works from the 60s.

Expert panel on reopening the international fine art transport

My colleagues Julia Betancor, Tomas Maar, Rosa Lowinger and I will be speaking as panelists on the pertinent topic of reopening the international fine art transport from 9 o’clock PST today. Join me and an international panel of experts in the discussion as the COVID-19 pandemic had a sudden and substantial impact on the industry.

Available as a resource on YouTube here.

Screenshot of the expert panel discussion.

One recent shift in the fine art transportation realm is the possibility of a virtual courier solution. From my point of view, the virtual courier is a great opportunity for the art community, but we also need to ensure avoiding a slippery slope and custodial neglect through a collaborative effort across disciplines.

I think that chain of custody roles and requirements need firm definitions to establish and uphold professional standards. Works of high value and cultural significance as well as works that are more vulnerable with more severe conditions require the assessment of a qualified conservator to avoid custodial neglect. 

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Los Angeles Times article about my research and LA Art Labs: Saving art with Science

My research and LA Art Labs made it onto the front page of the LA Times – click here to read the article! An excerpt from the fantastic article by the talented Sonja Sholklapper:

When she began chasing Saturn Yellow, Korbela still worked full time at LACMA, splitting her days between Stella’s pieces and works by Yayoi Kusama, Joan Mitchell, John Singer Sargent, Rufino Tamayo and Pablo Picasso.

Now, she runs her own conservation company, LA Art Labs, and must wait for grants and squeeze tests in on the side — a process that will probably take months.

Even after all of that, the hunt for vintage Saturn Yellow might not be over.

“We will have to do more analysis to find those perfect matches,” Korbela said. “It’s a field that’s very much still in its baby shoes.”

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Kamila Korbela, paintings conservator and researcher, in front of Bampur by Stella at LACMA
Paintings Conservator Kamila Korbela saves art with science.

Advanced Conserving Canvas Workshop at SRAL in Maastricht

I had the absolute pleasure to participate in the Getty’s Advanced Conserving Canvas Workshop in the Netherlands yesterday.

Conserving Canvas is an international grant initiative begun in 2018 that aims to ensure that critical conservation skills needed to care for paintings on canvas do not disappear.

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Conserving Canvas Symposium at Yale University

I just registered for the Conserving Canvas Symposium at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University. This will be the first major international gathering on the subject since 1974.

According to the organizers, the symposium will address historical approaches to the structural treatment of canvas paintings; current methods, materials, and research; and the challenges facing the structural conservation of modern and contemporary works.

With today’s field embracing minimal-intervention techniques and maintaining differing opinions on the efficacy of more invasive approaches, the symposium will provide a long overdue forum to reevaluate historical and current practices as well as inform future directions for the conservation of canvas painting.

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Frank Stella at LACMA

I had the absolut pleasure to treat one of the paintings in LACMA‘s upcoming Frank Stella show. LACMA is currently helping me to obtain a grant to continue the research I started on Stella’s early daylight fluorescent paintings. Stella used paints and pigments from the DayGlo Color Corp, which are now incredibly difficult to treat as no precedent is set on their treatment. My research, however, aims to provide the conservation community step-by-step instructions for treatment as well as guidelines for proper storage and exhibition.

Follow this link to learn more about LACMA‘s upcoming Stella show:

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FAIC Award

I am humbled and honored to be this year’s FAIC Individual Professional Development Scholarship Award recipient.

My narrative report about the award will be published on the website of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) shortly.

AIC and it’s foundation are generously supporting conservation education, research, and outreach activities within the conservation community. With my recent shift to private practice I am particularly grateful to AIC’s support.

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Award offer letter from the American Institute for Conservation.

Developing a Preservation Strategy for two paintings by Edvard Munch

I was just referenced in the recent publication ‘Edvard Munch – Between the Clock and the Bed’ by the brilliant researcher Mille Stein. Prompted by this situation, I would like to point to my contribution to the book ‘Public Paintings by Edvard Munch and his Contemporaries: Change and Conservation Challenges’.

My paper focuses on five paintings by Edvard Munch in the collection of the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen. Two paintings suffered from complex structural problems, as local crack patterns, flaking, and paint loss have been a constant issue, even after repeated selective consolidation. As all treatments have thus been of limited success in the long term, I identified the causes of this recurrent problem in order to develop a strategy to ensure the paintings’ stability in the future.

The clarification of structures in the two deteriorated paintings not only helped to substantiate the presumptions about their physical and chemical deterioration, but also complemented the existing body of research into Munch’s oeuvre for an understanding of degradation processes in his paintings.

To purchase the book click here.

For a look inside the book click here.

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As part of the investigation, this Munch painting has been examined in detail, visually and by multispectral imaging techniques. The left photograph shows the same Munch painting in ultraviolet light and the right photograph in strong raking light.


Blog post on the website of the American Institute of Conservation

As a member of the American Institute of Conservation (AIC), I participated in the organization’s 45th annual meeting in Chicago and was part of the Advancing Leadership in Conservation working group. Check out my blog post about the opening session on AIC’s website.

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This picture was captured during the opening reception of the 45th annual meeting of the American Institute of Conservation at the Chicago Art Institute.


Revealing the Secrets of a Master Flower Painter

I examined and restored a panel painting by the German-Dutch flower and still-life painter Abraham Mignon (1640-1679) at the Conservation Department of the National Gallery of Denmark during preparations for the exhibition Flowers and World Views.

The artistic quality of Mignon’s meticulously detailed works had disappeared under thick layers of yellowed varnish and discoloured overpaint. This project was an opportunity to remove the old restorations in order to reveal the virtuosity of Mignon’s works.

Read my entire story here by clicking on this link. 

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Conservation: One on One

This film offers insight into a conservator’s working process. See how I analysed and restored a panel painting by the German-Dutch flower and still-life painter Abraham Mignon (1640-1679) at the Conservation Department of the National Gallery of Denmark, and how hidden stories are unveiled.

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Producer: Mathilde Schytz Marvit
Director/camera/editing/sound/light: Alexandra Kristjansen
Music: Frederik Strunk
Grafic: Louise Springborg
Content: Kamila Marta Korbela